Sgt. David Clifford, a member of the Minneapolis SWAT team, turned himself in to authorities on Sunday after a father of four who he reportedly “sucker punched” for talking too loud spent Father’s Day in intensive care.
Mike Archambault told KMSP-TV that his longtime friend, Brian Vander Lee, was at a restaurant in Andover on Saturday when a stranger at another table asked him to be quiet.
“He did a Superman punch,” Archambault recalled. “Brian went back, feet up in the air, and the guy landed on top of him and his head bounced off the concrete.”
Archambault said the suspected fled the scene and Vander Lee was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors performed emergency surgery for bleeding on his brain.
Witnesses identified the assailant as Sgt. David Clifford but police did not find the officer at his home. Commander Paul Sommer said that Clifford finally turned himself in at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday after retaining a lawyer. He is expected to be charged with third-degree assault.
“I think he realized now, I don’t think he realized how serious it was last night,” Archambault explained. “And now that word got out — that Brian is in the condition he’s in — that he better do what’s right.”
An online biography indicated that Clifford had served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division as team leader of Personal Security Detachments in Kosovo and Iraq.
After two brain surgeries, Vander Lee was still on life support Sunday. Doctors are hopeful that he will recover.
Watch this video from KMSP-TV, broadcast June 18, 2012.