David Clifford, one-punch near-homicide cop, seeks to have charges dropped today

Categories: Crime, Police
Thumbnail image for david clifford rect.jpg
Clifford's attorney argues charges should be dropped because an investigator tried to manipulate two witnesses.
:::: UPDATE :::: David Clifford's motion to dismiss charges denied; will stand trial for near-fatal punch

If David Clifford and his defense attorney have their way, by the end of the day, Clifford will have been cleared on any criminal wrongdoing for nearly killing Brian Vander Lee with a sucker punch at Tanner's Station in Andover last June 16.

SEE ALSO: David Clifford, alleged sucker-punch cop, used to work security at a bar

Attorney Fred Bruno has filed a motion requesting the the first- and third-degree assault charges facing the Minneapolis SWAT team executive officer be dropped because an investigator tried to manipulate witnesses into giving statements favorable to the prosecution. A judge will respond to that motion during a hearing today.

Anoka County Detective Thomas Strusinski interviewed a couple who were with Clifford at Tanner's and saw the incident unfold. The couple claimed Vander Lee had gotten out of his chair before Clifford blasted him, but during the interview, Strusinski questioned that claim, saying the surveillance video didn't back it up.

You can watch the actual surveillance video here. Indeed, it shows Vander Lee getting out of his chair before Clifford punches him, but doesn't appear to indicate Vander Lee made any sort of aggressive action toward Clifford. In July, Bruno argued the footage shows Vander Lee moving his left arm before Clifford swings, which in his mind means Clifford was simply defending himself.

Anoka County officials told the Pioneer Press they don't think Bruno's motion to dismiss charges because of Strusinski's tactics will pass muster in court today:
Assistant Anoka County Attorney Blair Buccicone called the defense's motion "baseless."

"In my experience, Detective Strusinski is an excellent peace officer who has gone without a complaint during his entire 18-year law enforcement career," Buccicone said.

A spokesman with the Anoka County sheriff's office also dismissed the claims.

"Attacking the investigation and the investigator is a common tactic ... needless to say ... we are confident that the defense's motion will be denied," said Cmdr. Paul Sommer.
Bruno has also filed an affidavit signed by Patrick Erickson, a former Washington County deputy and owner of Law Enforcement Tactical Training Association. In the document, Erickson makes a case that Clifford's swing was in self-defense. If the case goes to trial, Bruno also plans to argue Vander Lee's 0.189 blood-alcohol level indicates he was wasted when Clifford socked him, the PiPress reports.

The force of the blow caused Vander Lee's head to bounce off concrete, causing a severe brain injury. Vander Lee underwent multiple brain surgeries and two weeks after the incident was still having trouble speaking and suffering from short- and long-term memory loss.

Today's dismissal-of-charges hearing is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. The first-degree assault change could land Clifford in prison for 20 years, so there's lot at stake.


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28 comments
internetdebateteam
internetdebateteam

@_Joe_  makes a valid point, @Realist   counters but completely misses the point and doesn't understand what they're talking about.  

@_Joe_  responds with common sense and courtesy and is met with @Realist  again being condescending and laughably having the point sail over their head.

@_Joe_   yet again proves his point and @Realist  realizes his mistake but to save face decides not to make a point but resorts to name calling. 

Sadly this is business as usual on the internet.

I sincerely hope that Clifford gets what he deserves and is prosecuted AND convicted. 

As @idrivefast said, he is an officer of the law (and not only that but the leader of the MPLS SWAT team) and most definitely should be held to a higher standard in this type of situation. 

Cops definitely have a tough job and it is disgusting that one deviously deceitful delinquent is able to tarnish the reputation  and erode the public's trust for so many more noble officers. 

If I were a police officer I would demand that Clifford be held accountable for his appalling actions.

idrivefast
idrivefast

"Bruno also plans to argue Vander Lee's 0.189 blood-alcohol level indicates he was wasted when Clifford socked him, the PiPress reports."

How is that relavent in the least? The video shows Lee got sucker punched. Drunk or sober, if you get sucker punched, chances are you are going down for the count. 

The surveillance video is pretty damning. I hope justice is actually served in this case and Clifford does hard time. If anything, as an officer of the law he should be held to a higher standard.  

Kelly McNutt
Kelly McNutt

@ Erick Seavey: victim's head hit the concrete because Clifford decked him. Simple as that. @ Benjamin Schwelling: "deserved the ass kicking". How very droll. I can see you standing over your drooling, brain-injured loved one sneering "Meh, you deserved it."

Kelly McNutt
Kelly McNutt

@ Erick Seavey: victim's head hit the concrete because Clifford decked him. Simple as that. @ Benjamin Schwelling: "deserved the ass kicking". How very droll. I can see you standing over your drooling, brain-injured loved one sneering "Meh, you deserved it."

_Joe_
_Joe_

Fuck that noise.  This guy deserves to be prosecuted.

Melissa Niederkorn
Melissa Niederkorn

Simple. I saw the video. If the cop didn't feel he did anything wrong and it was all self defense, then why did he run? He's a cop and he knows better. That tells me that he knew he shouldn't have punched the guy and since he knows he shouldn't have punched the guy - that reads guilt to me. The charges should absolutely stand. Let a jury figure it out.

Melissa Niederkorn
Melissa Niederkorn

Simple. I saw the video. If the cop didn't feel he did anything wrong and it was all self defense, then why did he run? He's a cop and he knows better. That tells me that he knew he shouldn't have punched the guy and since he knows he shouldn't have punched the guy - that reads guilt to me. The charges should absolutely stand. Let a jury figure it out.

Joseph Drizzle
Joseph Drizzle

If it was one civilian to another civilian would you idiots say give him a lesser charge? And you just assume the guy who got sucker punched deserved it even though you weren't there? guilty until proven innocent unless you wear a badge I get it. Heres hoping at least one of you get your domes cracked by a stranger sooner than later...

Joseph Drizzle
Joseph Drizzle

If it was one civilian to another civilian would you idiots say give him a lesser charge? And you just assume the guy who got sucker punched deserved it even though you weren't there? guilty until proven innocent unless you wear a badge I get it. Heres hoping at least one of you get your domes cracked by a stranger sooner than later...

Nick GarSuperstar
Nick GarSuperstar

Would someone please explain to me what exactly getting your "ass kicked" really mean? It seems to me like an extremely vague punishment for allegedly being drunk and obnoxious.

Ben Schwelling
Ben Schwelling

I think the drunk more than likely deserved to get his ass kicked. Every one of us reading this has had to deal with a loud mouth drunk ass at some point in our lives that deserved the ass kicking this guy got. And this should serve as a warning to all of you drunks out there that just cause your sauced doesn't mean people are gonna put up with your bullshit

Clarence Reed
Clarence Reed

. ..what is to become of this 'investigator'? . . the following seems like some sort of something. "an investigator tried to manipulate witnesses into giving statements"

Charlie Seto
Charlie Seto

The intent is throw out all charges on grounds of mistrial, regardless of guilt/innocence.

Erik Seavey
Erik Seavey

I don't think he deserves to be charged with first degree assault. Something less severe. He punched a guy, yes. He may have thought he was about to get punched himself. The head injury for they other guy sucks, but Clifford didn't intentionally hit they guy's head on the concrete; that's probably because the guy was drunk. Does City Pages have a beef with this guy because he's a cop?

Realist
Realist

@_Joe_ He is being prosecuted, genius. Are you trying to say the guy deserves to be convicted?

_Joe_
_Joe_

@Realist - You might want to read the article before you comment on the intelligence of others. His lawyer filed a motion to drop the criminal charges.  I think that that is bullshit, and that he deserves to be prosecuted for criminal charges.

_Joe_
_Joe_

@Realist 

: the act or process of prosecuting; specifically : the institution and continuance of a criminal suit involving the process of pursuing formal charges against an offender to final judgment 

Please note *continuance* and *pursuing*.  If they DROP the charges, then neither of those things happen, dumbfuck.  

Realist
Realist

@_Joe_ I think it's you that needs a dictionary. You aren't fully grasping the meaning of prosecuted and convicted. Legal action was brought against him. That's what prosecuted would mean. Prosecuted does not equal convicted. Stay tuned for tomorrow's lesson on shapes and colors.

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