Brian Vander Lee, photo provided by family spokesman Mike Archambault
Brian Vander Lee and his wife
ANDOVER, Minn. -- A Minneapolis police sergeant was charged with felony third degree assult on Monday after investigators say he punched a man at a bar in Andover.
David Richard Clifford, a long-time member of the SWAT team, is expected to make his first court appearance on Tuesday morning.
Anoka County authorities say Clifford punched Brian Vander Lee on the patio of Tanners Station in Andover on Saturday night.
According to the criminal complaint, Clifford ran from the patio and was eventually picked up by a woman in a vehicle.
The complaint states Clifford's attorney contacted authorities the next day to discuss the incident. Clifford later went into the Anoka County Sheriff's office.
"I'm told he was very polite and respectful to staff and I believe he fully expected he was going to be fully taken into custody," Anoka Co. Sheriff's Commander Paul Sommer said.
Clifford told investigators he was at Tanners the night before with his wife and some friends. Clifford said he took offense to some of the language Vander Lee was using and asked him to stop. The complaint states Vander Lee stopped using the language for five to ten minutes and then started using it again. That's when Clifford approached Vander Lee's table.
Commander Sommer says surveillance video clearly shows the suspect throwing one punch.
"Witnesses say the suspect confronted the victim about being loud on his cell phone and the incident was just very quick it was a matter of seconds," he explained.
According to investigators, Vander Lee's injuries may have been sustained from the fall to the concrete. He remained on life support in the hospital on Monday. Authorities say he had undergone two surgeries to relieve swelling on his brain.
Nobody wanted to talk about Sgt. Clifford following his arrest. No one answered the door at his Andover home and no one with the Police Officer Federation of Minneapolis returned KARE 11's request for comment.
Minneapolis Police Sgt. Bill Palmer tweeted that Clifford has no sustained discipline on his record, two medals of valor and had been nominated five times for Merit awards. He also served with the UN in Kosovo.
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