Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

According to witnesses, it was because the man was talking too loudly on his cell phone.

Sgt. David Clifford, 47, executive officer of the SWAT unit, was to appear in Anoka County court Tuesday morning on a charge of third-degree felony assault . . .

Brian Vander Lee, 43, of Ramsey, who works in the Star Tribune advertising department, was in stable condition at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids on Monday afternoon and was breathing on his own, said Steven Engelhart, Vander Lee’s boss. A family spokesman said Vander Lee was moving his hands and feet and was no longer on life support.

According to the criminal complaint, a surveillance video shows that Vander Lee was sitting on the patio at Tanner’s Station in Andover with his wife and brother on Saturday evening when Clifford, who was sitting at the next table, confronted him. Vander Lee was on his cellphone when Clifford leaned over and began talking in his ear, said Anoka County Sheriff’s Commander Paul Sommer. Witnesses described it as a “verbal confrontation,” according to the criminal complaint.

Then Clifford struck Vander Lee in the mouth with his right fist, Sommer said the video showed. Vander Lee fell backward, his head hitting the pavement.

“This was not a fight in any sense of the word,” Sommer said. “This is a one-sided assault. Vander Lee is starting to stand up. Before he reaches his feet, Clifford has hit him.”

More here. Vander Lee is now out of a coma, but still in critical condition. According to at least one witness, Clifford hit Vander Lee so hard that when he hit the ground, his head bounced off the concrete.

Clifford claims in the police report that Vander Lee was using offensive language, but according to the criminal complaint, no one else in the restaurant heard it. No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed he feared Vander Lee was about to. After striking Vander Lee, Clifford then fled on foot to a nearby parking lot as Vander Lee’s brother and friend chased him. His wife then swung by in her car to pick him up, and the two of them fled. He turned himself in the next day.

The Minneapolis Police Department initially went into defensive mode, noting that Clifford had received two medals of valor and “no sustained allegations on his disciplinary record.” A couple things, there. First, let’s keep in mind that this is the same Minneapolis Police Department that gave its SWAT team “medals of valor” for raiding the wrong house, resulting in a shootout with an innocent Hmong man. His wife and six children were in the house, which the police filled with at least 22 rounds. As for Clifford’s alleged clean record, the key word in that sentence is sustained. In this case, it merely means he hasn’t yet done anything so severe that even other cops and prosecutors were willing to hold him accountable.

That doesn’t necessarily mean his record is clean.

He was hired by the Minneapolis police in 1993. Two years later, suspecting he had confronted a prowler while on patrol, he allegedly pepper-sprayed the man and hit him several times in the head with a flashlight. Charges of fifth-degree assault against Clifford were dropped for lack of evidence.

The city of Minneapolis reached a settlement in a civil suit over the incident, paying alleged victim Harry Lazover $55,000.

I’ve received a couple emails over the last few days, both by reliable readers with ties to the Minneapolis law enforcement community, who say Clifford is known to have a short temper. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like even this incident is enough to penetrate the Blue Wall. Here’s the headline after Clifford’s bail hearing:

 

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94 Responses to “Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma”

  1. #1 |  Kazzy | 

    Come on, Radley. Look at the photo! A tattoo? What looks like it might be a mohawk? Clearly a criminal. Clearly deserving of what he got.

  2. #2 |  Andro | 

    He had only half a mixed drink – is it really better that he was stone sober at the time?

  3. #3 |  Mugen | 

    So, wait a second… Even the paper where he works described it as being his being “punched and *fell* to the concrete”?

    We all know there won’t be any accountability for this officer, but he deserves to be gang-raped in prison weekly for the rest of his life.

  4. #4 |  Whim | 

    Sgt. Clifford was hired by the Minneapolis PD in 1993.

    My prediction that the Prosecutor will closely cooperate with the police benevolent association to stretch the trial proceedings ’til the calendar date in 2013 that Sgt. Clifford can reach his magic TWENTY YEAR retirement date.

    Then he’ll retire at his full pension. Only THEN, the matter will come to trial, and he’ll get a wrist-slap like a one-year suspended sentence, but lose his CLEET-certification, etc. since it won’t matter anymore.

    Mr. Vander Lee on the other hand, will continue to have head-aches, blurred vision, and balance problems the remainder of his life.

  5. #5 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I always thought the worst Minneapolis case was the one where they shot the kid on the bike to death and then threw down an gun from the evidence room.

  6. #6 |  Pi Guy | 

    If this cop behaves this way off-duty I can only imagine the lack of restraint he must typically exercise when he’s on a SWAT raid and believes that he’s justified in using force.

    Gang-raped weekly sounds just about right to me.

  7. #7 |  Eric | 

    he deserves to be gang-raped in prison weekly for the rest of his life

    Maybe this will sound overly-sensitive, or not angry enough at cops, but nobody deserves to be gang-raped in prison even one time. It boggles my mind that it has become a mainstream, acceptable notion that prisoners are subjected to forcible rape. That’s especially true among libertarians who recognize that our prisons aren’t filled exclusively (or even mostly) with bad guys.

    Let’s hope that bad cops face consequences, but not that they are anally raped.

  8. #8 |  BamBam | 

    Clifford claims in the police report that Vander Lee was using offensive language, but according to the criminal complaint, no one else in the restaurant heard it. No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed he feared Vander Lee was about to.

    Being swore at and believing you’re going to be struck are not valid reasons to attack someone. The correct [non-sociopath] response is to remove yourself from the situation.

  9. #9 |  Personanongrata | 

    Very professional.

  10. #10 |  marie | 

    Let’s hope that bad cops face consequences, but not that they are anally raped.

    Yes. Thanks for saying this. Nobody deserves that. What criminals deserve is the same thing law-abiding citizens deserve: equal treatment under the law. The court system makes that nearly impossible right now but that’s no reason to wish for something truly barbaric.

  11. #11 |  croaker | 

    I have to ask why this isn’t attempted murder under color of law?

    @2 @5 Agreed, but only because his asshole needs time to heal between “date nights.”

  12. #12 |  GeneralGarbage | 

    “No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed he feared Vander Lee was about to.”

    More of “the biggest chicken shit wins” school of justification for violence.

  13. #13 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Clifford told police that he punched Vander Lee because he thought he was going to get hit.”

    Right, so Vander Lee made one of those “furtive gestures” that the police always talk about when they use unecessary and/or excessive force on someone. Clifford has been trained well! The fact that he ran away like a common criminal–which is what he seems to be–says all you need to know about this bully boy with a badge.

  14. #14 |  MH | 

    Also have to protest the endorsement of prison rape as a form of punishment. Obviously not every commenter here is a libertarian, but definitely, libertarians should know better.

  15. #15 |  Whim | 

    Now that Sgt. Clifford’s name has reached the public eye in a big way, wonder how many other police abuse stories attributed to his volatile temper will now surface?

    Probably, lots……

    He’s cost the taxpayers of Minneapolis/Hennepin County a lot of money.

  16. #16 |  Mairead | 

    I lived in Mpls for years. The cops used to be relaxed and friendly. Not quite as laid-back as the cops in Arcata California, but close. I wonder what happened.

    (I too have to protest the idea that rape in prison would be appropriate punishment for cops like this guy. But since he seems to find it hard to keep himself to himself, perhaps several days per week of solitary might give him a better appreciation of other people’s rights. It worked for Alexander Selkirk)

  17. #17 |  KPRyan | 

    These tough cops, so quick to employ fists, clubs, electrocution devices and guns, so often seem to run away when they don’t have their ‘brothers in blue’ standing next to them, telling them:

    ‘Everything will be all right… we saw it go down, brother! He swung at you and was probably carrying an illegal weapon and an ounce of coke! (Hey, he will after I get done with him, ya know what I mean… so stand tall, brother – we got your back!”

    This one, without the Brotherhood, runs thru parking lots in hopes that his wife (WHO SHOULD BE CHARGED) can pick him up and remove him from the crime scene so he can hide and hope that no one’s able to identify him.

  18. #18 |  croaker | 

    @9 This is no ordinary criminal. This is a cop who thinks his badge is a patent of nobility and a license to abuse lesser life forms, defined as anyone who isn’t a cop.

    As far as I’m concerned, Clifford should be farmed out to a Turkish Prison and left there to rot.

  19. #19 |  el coronado | 

    The *real* bad sign here is that story headline, “Off-duty [swine] escort Sgt. Rock from jail.”

    IIRC, the Randy Weaver/Ruby Ridge trial was just about 20 years ago. The FBI caused quite a stir, and showed the world how the FBI rolls, when they escorted their star ‘shoot the unarmed woman’ sniper into the courtroom via a flying wedge of agents carrying Uzi’s. People didn’t like it, not one bit, but most just shrugged and said things like, ‘Well, it’s the FBI – they think they’re the Praetorian Guards anyway’.

    Now we’re seeing ordinary old cops [albeit exceptionally gutless & bloodthirsty ones] getting that same level of ‘protection’ from their ‘brother swine’. Even in places like Bumfuck Egypt Anoka County, Minnesota. That’s a pretty quick rampup in just 20 years, ain’t it? What a country! The only difference between the cops and a violent street gang is that I fear the street gang **much** less.

  20. #20 |  Rich | 

    Steroids.

  21. #21 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Then he’ll retire at his full pension. Only THEN, the matter will come to trial, and he’ll get a wrist-slap like a one-year suspended sentence, but lose his CLEET-certification, etc. since it won’t matter anymore.

    Good. Then he will be able to pay his judgement to the punchee. remember, the police department’s insurance ain’t gonna cover the damages on this one.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    This is third-degree assault? Does that mean there are two more serious degrees of assault?

  23. #23 |  llamas | 

    “No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed he feared Vander Lee was about to.”

    Ah, yes, the “Ed Cantrell defense”. My years of training as an LEO makes me uniquely able to determine in advance when a person is going to attack me.

    At least Cantrell apparently believed his own account, since he stuck around and took himself off to jail – as opposed to running away, lawyering up and ‘turning (himself) in’ the next day, as though he’s doing everyone a favor by deigning to allow himself to be entangled in the CJS.

    Day in court and everything, but these are scarcely the actions of an innocent man.

    $15,000 bail (= $1500 bond) for a violent assault which left a man in a coma? Hmmm.

    llater,

    llamas

  24. #24 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Ok, I see. First degree is great bodily harm while third degree is substantial bodily harm. I guess being in a coma on life support probably doesn’t constitute great bodily harm (at least when a cop does it).

  25. #25 |  SJE | 

    #21: my thought too. According to MN law, the difference is the degree of injury between first (great bodily harm) and third degree (“substantial bodily harm”) assault (Full text: Whoever assaults another and inflicts great bodily harm may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000, or both.) Third degree is also for injuries to a child under 4 that are enough to cause visible brusing, so you get the idea.

    When is coming up to an unarmed man and, unprovoked, hitting him in the face so hard he is put into a coma a third degree assault? Prosecutors: we are watching you too!

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    Damn, Dave beat me to it. First degree is also for assaulting a cop, and is reserved for serious offenses. Second is for weapons. I’d call this worth charging at both first and third, and see how the jury finds it.

  27. #27 |  el coronado | 

    Prosecutors to #24 and all the other impudent proles: “Because Fuck You, that’s why.”

  28. #28 |  GeneralGarbage | 

    The victim’s friends who chased the criminal are VERY lucky that he got away. Had they gotten their hands on him, they probably would have left the scene in body bags once the rest of his gang showed up.

  29. #29 |  omar | 

    @#6 | Eric |

    It’s not overly sensitive. Wishing for rape is barbaric.

    The comments on this blog tend to be some of the most intelligent and well reasoned on the Internet. Sadly though, a lot of otherwise rational and compassionate people have recently been sounding like the mirror image of the folks at the insano cops board.

    It didn’t used to be like this around here. A few years ago, there were a lot more “Most cops have good intentions” disclaimers before being angry at the system or particular cop. I blame the fact that Radley has been running this blog for so many years now, people are realizing the vast extent to which police rule like thugs, and it really pisses them off. This education is good, and the anger is justified. Wishing for more violence is not.

    The answer to barbarism is not being barbarians ourselves. Nobody deserves to be killed or raped, even killers and rapists. I hope Clifford is tried, convicted, and spends the rest of his miserable long life in prison contemplating what he did, not whether he will get raped today.

  30. #30 |  croaker | 

    @27 SOP for the blue street gang.

    What’s the difference between a police department and a street gang? Major Medical.

  31. #31 |  croaker | 

    @27 SOP for the blue street gang.

    What’s the difference between a police department and a street gang? Major Medical.

  32. #32 |  ALowe | 

    In MN, substantial bodily harm means “bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily member.”

    Great bodily harm means “bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm.”

    It seems to me that putting a guy on life support is a pretty solid sign that there was a “high probability of death,” but what do I know? I’m just a peasant.

  33. #33 |  croaker | 

    @29 A whloe lot of cops claim in public that violence is the only way to get through to some criminals.

    Sauce for the goose.

  34. #34 |  MH | 

    Tu quoque fallacy.

  35. #35 |  Mike | 

    @31 Croaker, “What’s the difference between a police department and a street gang? Major Medical.”

    More: Street gang wants to steal your stuff.
    Police wants to steal your stuff (civil forfeiture, you know), your property, your assets, your liberty for a long time, your self-respect and your humanity. Plus put you in the hospital for resisting them.

  36. #36 |  Marshall | 

    @ #29:

    Amen, Omar.

  37. #37 |  SJE | 

    Note that this is Anoka MN, Michele Bachman’s district, which is well known for its social conservatism on all sorts of issues. Once you start accepting gay bashing or bashing of other “undesirable” minorities, its not too far for the cops to start bashing people who talk too loud on their cell phones.

  38. #38 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #37

    Which is why the liberal big cities have such fine police forces. You are full of shit.

  39. #39 |  Whim | 

    Regarding the #19 El Coronado comments about off-duty police escorting the accused Sgt. Clifford to show police solidarity, I saw the most remarkable and perverted police escort of a killer cop, former Seattle police officer Ian Birk, who shot an Indian woodcarver to death, literally for doing nothing more than walk down the street.

    Although filmed from a secondary police vehicle, this police video captured the virtual phalanx of support including placing their hands on each other’s shoulders in a show of brotherly support of Officer Birk who leads the phalanx to his “kill”, while they inched up to a bleeding-out supine body, in order to hand-cuff the innocent victim of the police shooting.

    Here’s the remarkable video of the Seattle police phalanx:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2WYCf2X7MA&feature=related

    Saw something similar in the Portland Police Union show of support for killer thugs Sgt. Kyle Nice, Deputy, Deputy Bret Barton and psycho Officer Chris. Humphreys, including their printed signs. In 2006, Nice, Barton and Humpreys had beaten a helpless, harmless mentally unbalanced man to death in broad daylight. Chasse suffered fractures in 16 of his ribs and had a total of 26 broken bones, as well as a punctured lung. They then lied to the EMT about the extent of what violence they had been perpetrated.

    Witnessed by dozens of witnesses.

    The Chasse Family won settlements in the amounts of $1.6 million from the City of Portland, $925,000 from Multnomah County, and $600K from the Ambulance Service. Nice and Barton are still sworn LEO’s in their respective jurisdictions.

  40. #40 |  omar | 

    @29 A whloe lot of cops claim in public that violence is the only way to get through to some criminals.

    Sauce for the goose.

    A lot of libertarians claim in public that violence is the only way to get through to some cops.

    Sauce for the gander.

  41. #41 |  SJE | 

    Chris: keep it civil.

    Most “liberal” big cities are not liberal, they are Democratic, which is different (see Obama on civil liberties versus Ron Paul) All of them have a long history of police violence being tolerated (especially against minorities) and are in the pocket of public service unions, and so its not surprising that there is abuse.

    Back to Anoka: it has the highest gay suicide rate in the nation, and social conservatives had little problem with that.

    In both cases, the broader population has looked the other way for too long, and so this sort of shit happens.

  42. #42 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Seconding #20. He needs to be drug tested.

  43. #43 |  Bobby Black | 

    What this asshole cop, but i repeat myself, doesn’t take into account that prisons are FULL of people with no sustainable past of misconduct and law-breaking. i hope this cocksucker gets to meet some of the people he put in jail while he sits around a few years and gets to mull over his actions…but i bet he won’t. He will walk free on probation.

  44. #44 |  croaker | 

    @43 From experience, this cock sucker’s mouthpiece will cry about cops having a bad time in prison and the judge will let him off with time served and maybe some peobation.

  45. #45 |  JSL | 

    An ex-swat/trainer pontificates on no-knock raids etc.:

    http://www.warriortalknews.com/2012/06/defending-against-swat-entries-not-what-you-think-it-is.html

    “When I was on SWAT our view is that “We will always win….even if we have to burn down your entire house by bombing it….we will win”. Period. ”

    Or beat the shit out of some guy who allegedly was rudely talking loud on his cell phone.

    “Notice that I have not even gotten into the “right or wrong” discussion. Why not? Because it is not relevant.”

  46. #46 |  Other Sean | 

    Omar #29,

    “Sadly though, a lot of otherwise rational and compassionate people have recently been sounding like the mirror image of the folks at the insano cops board…The answer to barbarism is not being barbarians ourselves. Nobody deserves to be killed or raped”

    You spoke beautifully to the moral problems with all that cheap posturing. And as someone said before me, amen to that. But for me what troubles most is the sheer intellectual laziness of those comments.

    The more horrible that police misconduct and brutality becomes, the more it demands a complex, impersonal explanation. The more common it becomes for police to treat citizens like subject people in a combat zone, the more we must search for subtle, systemic causes.

    But hey, don’t tell that to the advanced problem solvers who think they’re fomenting revolution when they post comments like: “Cops are racist dicks who should get raped in prison blah, blah, blah, and if they come through my door on a no-knock I’m shooting back at those pigs”.

    They got it all figured out.

  47. #47 |  ken | 

    @#45
    I really wish I hadn’t followed that link; my blood pressure was doing so well…

    Love the ‘We will win. Period.’ line and how he derides tough talking”…Mr. Bubba Bumpfire now, beating his chest and grabbing his Tapcoe’d SKS…’
    Well, here we have a rough and tough SWAT leader sucker punching a guy and then running away like a bitch. It’s easy to be tough in full body armor, backed up by 6 or 7 heavily armed buddies kicking in a door in the middle of the night.

    No self awareness whatsoever, none.

    Funny how these highly trained SWAT teams do fine, as long as nobody actively resists them.
    But let a little old lady fire a couple of rounds into the ceiling and they open fire and shoot each other to $#@!

    Lot’s of lovely blaming the victim too. Hey, if you don’t want to be the accidental target of a botched raid, don’t live near/look like/whatever ‘those sort of people’
    You heard him, Mayor Calvo, you brought it on yourself. Interesting how the stats we now have access to thanks to this raid show that in what, 30% or so of cases where these tactics are used no arrests are made at all, let alone the tiny number of cases where you could even begin to argue that such actions were justified.
    But this guy says you live around folks who call down the righteous thunder on themselves at your own peril.

    I do agree with one thing he says though, it really is pointless to argue with some people.

    Oh well

  48. #48 |  Michael Chaney | 

    After thinking about this, it just struck me that the wife didn’t get charged. The 3rd degree charge was obviously far under what it should have been. But she ran, got the car, and picked him up so they could take off. That makes her an accessory in any state. If this guy wasn’t a cop they would both be facing 5+ charges.

  49. #49 |  David | 

    A few quick facts:

    1) According to a local TV station’s interview with the man the victim was talking to when the cop (armed welfare queens) assaulted him….the victim did NOT use any foul language. Others nearby corroborated this. The cop (armed welfare queen) initially made this claim and then the other cops (also armed welfare queens) allowed him to retract it when they realized wouldn’t get away with this particular lie.

    (Not that anybody deserves to be violently assaulted by girly welfare queen cops because of bad language, but just for the record.)

    2) The “mohawk” on the victim was just his head being shaved for clean surgical incisions. (Not that this really matters, one way or another.)

    3) Where is the video?!? It is apparently NASTY. The cop (armed welfare queen) violently throws a “superman punch”, which is a leaping punch with all your body weight and power thrown into it. Such a punch is meant to do one thing and one thing only: cause severe and immediate concussive brain trauma on the recipient.

  50. #50 |  Sean | 

    “The victim’s friends who chased the criminal are VERY lucky that he got away. Had they gotten their hands on him ….”

    Some accounts of this that I have read said the victim’s brother managed to chase down and get hold of SWAT commander Clifford and break a couple of his ribs, before his wife came to his rescue. I’m just surprised the brother hasn’t been charged for assault and battery on a police officer if this is true.

    The SWAT officer’s wife definitely needs to be charged with aiding and abetting or whatever the charge would be, since she helped him flee afterwards and then helped him avoid being arrested the following day.

  51. #51 |  Other Sean | 

    Original Sean,

    “The SWAT officer’s wife definitely needs to be charged with aiding and abetting or whatever the charge would be, since she helped him flee afterwards”

    Do you wonder how she learned to do that? I mean, it’s not exactly the normal wifely response to move AWAY from her husband after a violent incident in a public place. Still less is it normal for a stunned middle aged woman to fetch a getaway car and skillfully maneuver it into position. We must assume she was in denial of the fact that her husband did anything wrong, so one would have expected her to scream for or call the police.

    The only apparent alternative is: she knew he was the aggressor instantly and without doubt, and she knew he would need her help to escape the scene. But HOW could she know those things, unless she’d witnessed something similar before?

    I’ve heard a few stories from cops about starting fights or knocking people out off-duty and then running away on foot, to be picked up by other cops at a safe distance. I have NEVER heard of a cop’s wife taking part in anything like that.

  52. #52 |  pinandpuller | 

    Did they pay their bill before fleeing?

  53. #53 |  lurkerbee | 

    #50 & 51 The Seans

    A wife defending her husband is a feature, not a bug.

    I can almost guarantee all she saw was her husband getting his ass beat, and wanted to get him out of there regardless of circumstances. He was a thuggish ass, she was acting on instinct.

  54. #54 |  Linda | 

    Oh my God, I can not get past the part of his head bouncing off the concrete….. Just very disturbing and brutal. I will hope for a full recovery for Mr. Vander Lee, but really do not expect it.

  55. #55 |  John David Galt | 

    Good on both the Agitator and whatever site you got that story from, for giving us the name and picture of the uniformed bad guy. This rarely happens. If we can’t put most of them behind bars, we should at least name and shame as many as we can.

    When it’s cop vs. civilian, the civilian is the one entitled to the presumption of innocence. Giving that up ought to be part of the cost of being a cop. (And if a cop ever feels the need to hide his face or badge number, then he is admitting his actions are dishonorable, and ought to find a different job.)

  56. #56 |  marco73 | 

    I’d commented a couple days ago that there was no way this assault could be covered up.
    Buy $15k bail? And his cop buddies escorting him out of jail?

    City will settle for high 6 figures. Cop will plead down to a parking ticket, suspended sentence, followed by a medal ceremony and parade.

  57. #57 |  JoeP | 

    How do you guys read stories like this and not succumb to simultaneous waves of outrage and utter hopelessness for our country? I understand that there have always been “problems” in America, corruption, racism, crime, bigotry, etc., and I’m aware of the phenomena that occurs when people think that there is more of a particular problem now than there was x-number of years ago, but in reality it’s because there’s greater media coverage or reporting of the problem.

    But still…

    I dunno, reading these kinds of stories just fills me w/ hopelessness for the country and our society and leaves me thinking the future will include more acts of official (off-duty) repression and lawlessness.

    Can you imagine how betrayed the WW2 generation would feel if they actually were aware of and understood how our own gov’t has morphed into a plutocracy that shredded the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (at least the parts dealing w/ civil liberties)?

    I doubt more than a handful of average Americans even know what the Nuremberg Trials were, or who Justice Jackson was, and how unlikely is the possibility of a figure of his class and stature emerging from the federal judiciary in this age of abusive partisan politics. They certainly don’t realize how shameful it is that our President now claims the right to unilaterally kill anyone he deems to be an enemy of the state, including our own citizen-brothers, yet after WW2 we found a way to afford the worst Nazi’s due process and give them a fair trial.

    But again, it’s not just corruption/insanity at the top of the gov’t – this article tells a tale of criminality and foreshadows corruption at the local level that is disheartening.

  58. #58 |  Sean | 

    I wonder if one of his “medal of valor” awards came from that raid where they hit the wrong house and a H’mong man with a shotgun handed their asses to them? I believe that happened a few years back in Minneapolis, and all of those officers got the Medal of Valor, for raiding the wrong house.

    I think it was claimed it was for their “restraint” in not just killing everybody in the house — pretty bad when it’s considered “valorous” to not summarily execute people.

  59. #59 |  Ariel | 

    What a nice man, his mother must be so proud.

  60. #60 |  Other Sean | 

    Marco73,

    Already too much publicity for that, though you’d be dead right in lots of other cases.

    This settlement goes into the millions. Clifford will be fired, and will lose his license (barring some shocking development in the case). Since they’ve already low-balled to the lowest felony charge, he’ll probably end up pleading guilty to some misdemeanor like simple assault or disorderly conduct or mayhem or whatever bullshit word they use for that in Minnesota.

    But here’s the nut punch: As a former SWAT unit commander, he will QUICKLY find very lucrative work as a consultant/trainer, or maybe as a contractor of the Blackwater variety. In about three years, he’ll have a bigger house and a better getaway car than he does today.

  61. #61 |  Ariel | 

    When you always fear for your safety because the other 99.7% of us must all be out to hurt you, not killing is an act of valor. Well, ok, a twisted one but still…

  62. #62 |  marco73 | 

    Other Sean – you sure got that right. This ex-cop will probably be more in demand on the cop training curcuit: “OOOh – that’s the guy who put some punk in a coma with 1 punch!”

  63. #63 |  BamBam | 

    Find out where this cop and his accomplice wife live, print out a flier, and everyone mail the flier to all of their neighbors in a 3 block radius to let them know what kind of people they have for neighbors. Encourage those neighbors to SHUN them, to NEVER SPEAK to them, to NEVER do anything that acknowledges their existence.

  64. #64 |  Resistance | 

    Obama:
    Murderer in Chief

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L54gOgJxIRQ

  65. #65 |  a_random_guy | 

    “Find out where this cop and his accomplice wife live, print out a flier, and everyone mail the flier to all of their neighbors in a 3 block radius to let them know what kind of people they have for neighbors.”

    No.

    Calls for action of this sort are internet thuggery. Don’t make this kind of call and don’t participate. All sorts of innocent people get caught in the gears.

  66. #66 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I’m generally opposed to workplace drug testing, but something’s got to be done about these cops and their ‘roid rage. Too many innocent people are getting hurt.

    -jcr

  67. #67 |  John C. Randolph | 

    no sustained allegations on his disciplinary record.

    Kind of reminds me of how witnesses against the mob tend to lose their memory.

    -jcr

  68. #68 |  GreginOz | 

    Wow, it is strange that you live in such a dangerous country. I would be AFRAID to visit the USA. First I’d get irradiated in Sydney, Australia then the same entering the U.S. (so I develop cancer), then any U.S. T.S.A pervert, cop, sheriff, reservist, wadeva who didn’t like the cut of my jib could bash, taser, maim, kill me at will. Apparently it is a crime to breathe, speak, talk back, resist, drink, drive, or party. It is a numbers game, like winning the lottery, except with reverse luck! I wonder how many more screw turns b4 sombody explodes?

  69. #69 |  David | 

    Not to beg, but….can we PLEASE see the surveillance tape of the welfare queen’s assault on the private sector worker?

    I’ve heard numerous descriptions of it, so it has to be floating around out there. (Unless the welfare queen cops are prancing around confiscating them all to make it magically disappear, as they’re wont to do.)

  70. #70 |  Pi Guy | 

    omar et al, re: gang rape and wishing violence upon cops

    I reluctantly agree that my wishes for the officer’s actions should be punishable by gang rape. I realize that it’s not an excuse but I’ve had two run-ins with police in the last several months truly over-exercising their duties on traffic stops, one was rather harrowing with me and the officer both outside the car for changing lanes at the entrance to the Army base where I used to work.

    The other was a exactly as Burgers Allday’s related his wife experience: cop said I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Of course I was. The real issue was that I was smoking a blunt (pure tobacco) wearing a ponytail in a conservative-leaning town wear white people don’t do such things. The officer was cop was, IMO, certain that he was a bout to make a pot bust. I figure the seat belt was just pretense for getting me on the side of the road. No citations issued because no infractions occurred.

    I’m a middle class, college-educated white guy but I’m starting to understand what the fear of driving while black is like. You think “Stop Snitchin” is unjustified? I really don’t think so anymore.

    But, again, I wish I could un-type the gang rape part. OTOH, if the house is raided and someone shoots mi diablo chica perro (I only address The Beagle Dog ™ in Spanglish) just because she coming right for them, I’m pretty sure that, at this point, their gonna have to shoot me too. I’m that pissed.

  71. #71 |  Pi Guy | 

    OMD, I need to preview better on this forum when I comment at sunrise.

    Coffee. More coffee.

  72. #72 |  Pi Guy | 

    OK, so I just followed the link provided by JSL @ #45. “Don’t live in bad neighborhoods” is his first piece of advice? WTF?

    Essentially, he’s saying to me, “If you don’t want to be harrassed by police, don’t smoke cigars typically used by black pot smokers while being a long-haired hippie in my Leave It To Beaver town or you’re asking for ‘special treatment’.”

    Sorry, folks. Now I know why I feel the way I do. I’m leaning back toward taking my whole apology above back. He’s made clear that there’s a line in the sand and he’s absolutely certain that he and his brothers in blue – who clearly aren’t telling this guy what dick he is – are on the right side and people like me on the wrong side. They’ve drawn first blood.

  73. #73 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Two more comments:

    1. Sounds like he would have been about 27 years old when he joined up with MPD in 1993. Makes me wonder . . .

    2. On April 23, 1995, consistent with his routine for the prior seven years, appellant Harry Lazover left his apartment in south Minneapolis at 4:00 a.m. to catch the 4:45 a.m. bus to go to work at his job cleaning patient rooms at Hennepin County Medical Center. Appellant is described by himself and others as “socially slow” or “learning disabled.” He, however, lives alone and supports himself. Appellant was on the sidewalk near his apartment building when a police car approached. Respondent, police officer David R. Clifford, thought seeing someone alone at that time of the morning in that part of town was suspicious. Officer Clifford knew the area had a high incidence of car break-ins and prowlers. Much of what happened after the officer encountered appellant is disputed. According to the appellant, the officer rolled down his squad-car window and asked appellant where he was going. Appellant responded that he was going to catch the bus to go to work and pointed to the HCMC identification badge clipped to his shirt. The officer then asked when the bus was coming; when appellant answered 4:45, the officer asked what appellant was going to do until the bus came. Appellant’s answer that he would walk and wait seemed tense, rehearsed, and suspicious to the officer. According to appellant, the officer then got out of his car and approached appellant and ripped a work identification badge from appellant’s pocket. The officer asked for more identification. Appellant produced his state identification card, which listed his address as 3401 Dupont, the building adjacent to that area of the sidewalk. The officer testified he asked appellant to step over and place his hands on the squad car, which appellant did voluntarily. According to the officer, he had not completed his pat search of appellant, nor seen appellant’s Minnesota identification card, when appellant broke away and started resisting. Appellant has a routine of carrying his two house keys inside a sock in his pocket and carrying considerable cash until he can deposit it in the bank. On this occasion, appellant had $5,500 in a pocket. According to appellant, the officer removed the sock containing the keys from appellant’s pocket; the officer also removed pay stubs from another pocket. Because appellant began to worry that the officer would remove his money, he tried to get away from the officer. According to appellant, the officer screamed profanity at him and slammed him against the car. Appellant claimed he was scared and again tried to get away from the officer and they began to struggle. What happened during the struggle is disputed. Appellant testified that he crouched down and the officer then pushed him face down on the ground. The officer appeared to leave briefly; when he came back, appellant felt something hard against his head that he thought might be a gun. Appellant felt three sharp blows to his head. After the last blow, the officer came around in front of appellant and sprayed him in the face with mace. The officer testified that appellant tried to hit him in the head with his elbow as he rose from having his hands on the squad-car roof. The officer attempted to control appellant by grabbing him, but when he was unable to accomplish this after about a minute’s struggle, he used his flashlight. The officer testified that he intended to hit appellant around the shoulders and did not remember hitting appellant on the head. After the officer struck and handcuffed appellant, the officer took him to the emergency room at Hennepin County Medical Center, appellant’s place of employment. The officer tab charged appellant with fifth degree assault and left. The charges were later dropped. Several staff at the hospital recognized appellant and were surprised to see him. Appellant was bruised and covered with blood and had a significant wound to the back of his head. Appellant was given medical treatment and sent home for the day. Ultimately, appellant recovered from his injuries. . . .

  74. #74 |  Ron | 

    Hey (#37) SJE: Before you go into partisan attack mode, at least get your facts straight.

    1) The Anoka County Sherriff (Sommer) seemed to be pretty sympathetic to the victim. Read hisa quotes again.

    2) The perpetrator of this barbarity is from *Minneapolis* SWAT, not Anoka.

  75. #75 |  croaker | 

    @45 and this is why I believe life inprisonment with a side order of anal rape is an appropriate punishment for SWAT thugs like Clifford.

    Allow me to restate a previous comment: Clifford should be farmed out to a Turkish Prison and left to rot there. Stripping him and his family of US citizenship would also be a good thing.

  76. #76 |  Other Sean | 

    Croaker,

    I’m going to take you at face value, and pretend for a moment you’re not just blowing off steam to make yourself feel better.

    Here’s are the implications of your comment:

    1) You have no objection to a prison system based on sadistic and arbitrary retribution, where some rape, some get raped, and all human rights are forfeit once a person has been found guilty. Nice.

    2) You’re in favor of extraordinary rendition to developing world shit holes, to be used whenever YOU decide that even our repulsively violent prison system isn’t brutish enough to do the job. Okay.

    3) You want Clifford’s punishment to be based, not on the particular crime he committed, but one the general grounds that he is a SWAT thug. Because hey, what could possibly go wrong with putting people on trial for WHO they are, instead of WHAT they’ve provably done?

    4) You want his entire family to be punished for something he did. Specifically, you want them stripped of citizenship and turned into international refugees.

    Now, remind me please: exactly what values and beliefs do you claim to share with the author of this blog and the people who read it?

  77. #77 |  Mairead | 

    Burgers (72) thanks for posting the story of Mr Lazover’s assault. Now I understand why he was only comp’d $55K: he’s “learning disabled”, a category that makes his life less valuable to the state.

  78. #78 |  Burgers Allday | 

    well, I didn’t post the full “unpublished” opinion, but it seems that Lazover lost at trial the first time, so his settlement occurred in the shadow of having lost in front of a jury once.

    I don’t know why he lost the first jury trial. The unpublished decision faults the trial judge to some extent (which is why there was an opportunity given for a retrial, and why he got $55K instead of zero), but there must have been other stuff going on. Slow and learning disabled people can make sympathetic plaintiffs, at least potentially. Especially ones holding down paying jobs and supporting themselves.

    what was his race?

    did he have a decent lawyer?

    did he just draw a bad jury?

  79. #79 |  crazybob | 

    “1) The Anoka County Sherriff (Sommer) seemed to be pretty sympathetic to the victim. Read hisa quotes again.

    2) The perpetrator of this barbarity is from *Minneapolis* SWAT, not Anoka.”

    If the assault had taken place in Minneapolis, instead of Anoka, we would not have been hearing about it.

    Of course don’t forget that lovely Anoka has a school policy that has the effect of preventing teachers from protecting kids from anti-gay bullying, with the predictable result of 9 teen suicides in the last year.

  80. #80 |  demize! | 

    Maybe they would like to escort him into jail? Sort of hang out with him there, watch his back and front.

  81. #81 |  demize! | 

    Sorry for the double but I want to also chime in about the casual prison rape rhetoric. The inmates who do this are usually the most aggressive and violent, the ones who pray on weaker and unprotected, unaffiliated victims. They extort and have power.They mete out physical punishment for the myriad unwritten jailhouse transgressions. They fuck with people who want to be left alone. Sound familiar. They’re also less likely to get shit from CO’s who are intimidated by them. So yeah.

  82. #82 |  jimn | 

    “I lived in Mpls for years. The cops used to be relaxed and friendly. Not quite as laid-back as the cops in Arcata California, but close. I wonder what happened.”

    @#16 – Along with all the usual reasons Radley commonly mentions, I think the elimination of the city residency requirement for police officers has also had a negative effect in Minneapolis. They don’t live here anymore, this is only their workplace(battleground).

  83. #83 |  Ron | 

    #79:

    1) How do you know?

    2) So the Anoka School system is responsible for the Minneapolis SWAT officer’s assault?

    Do you have any more non-sequiturs for us?

  84. #84 |  el coronado | 

    #79 –

    While you’re out there doing them bizarre non-sequiturs for the crowd’s enjoyment, kindly try and put at least *some* of the blame on Michelle Bachman. Or Jesse Ventura. Or maybe the Republican Governor of nearby Wisconsin.

  85. #85 |  SJE | 

    The social conservatives talk about the importance of “culture,” especially in the context of welfare recipients. I happen to agree with them. Of course, it cuts both ways.

  86. #86 |  Other Sean | 

    jimn #82,

    Police residency requirements only make things worse by artificially limiting the pool of applicants to training academies.

    Actually, such rules have an especially terrible effect on minority recruiting. Think about it. A middle class black kid whose family moved up out of Hawthorne to escape the public schools might join the MSP police force, but not if it means moving back to the city’s decrepit core.

  87. #87 |  Jovan1984 | 

    Hey, Resistance:

    George Bush MURDERED more than 6,000 of our servicepeople.

    Obama, on the other hand, KILLED only TWO people (one was killed by a drone).

    So, who is REALLY the murderer-in-chief?

  88. #88 |  Whim | 

    For some ambitious writer, I think there is a non-fiction best seller in the life of Sgt. David Clifton, decorated psycho career cop from Minneapolis Police Dept.

    Using FOIA, and a lot of research through old police files, it would be insightful to document the Use of Force reports filed by Sgt. Clifton, as well as the Citizen Complaints filed against Sgt. Clifton.

    And, also EVERY police report that Sgt. Clifton ever filed.

    As well as the legal record of public filings concerning the conduct of Sgt. Clifton.

    Clifton showed a sadistic stream a yard wide for at least the past 18 years.

    And, no one on the Minneapolis PD ever noticed?

    It appears that he was a menace to the community all the way back to 1995, and his very early years on the Minneapolis police force.

    Just think through the incident documented in the court appeal back in 1995:

    Provoking an incident at 4:00 a.m. with a hospital janitor named Harry Lazover, who had followed the same work routine for the past seven years: Leave his apartment at 4:00 a.m.; walk to the bus stop; catch the 4:45 a.m. bus to his job at the local hospital.

    Until he met Officer Clifton. Clifton rolled up on, stopped, questioned, harassed, detained, attacked, and clubbed in the head to unconsciousness with a police flashlight a mildly learning disabled man.

    A man who had a perfectly good explanation (as if he even needed one) of what he was doing on the Minneapolis sidewalk outside his home at 4:00 a.m.

    On where he was going: To the Bus stop to go to work at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

    When I.D. was demanded by Clifton he also showed Officer Clifton both his hospital I.D., as well as his state issued I.D. Not good enough.

    On how he was going to get there: Walk.

    On what he was going to do at the bus stop: Wait for the 4:45 a.m. bus.

    Sgt. Clifton is one sorry piece of police excrement, and has been for over career with MPD……

  89. #89 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Clifford is typical, not the exception. He is the perfect cop.

    Remember, FUCK YOU if you talk loud on a phone. That gets a punch in the face.

    Nice to see people are starting to realize this is the present and the future only gets worse.

  90. #90 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    @#40
    A lot of libertarians claim in public that violence is the only way to get through to some cops.

    Sauce for the gander.

    C’mon, Omar. There’s a bit of a difference between a skinny neck beard libertarian with no special powers and a fully armed cop backed up by near immunity and the wealth of the most powerful nation in history willing to snap the neck of anything that suits it’s fancy.

    I’ll take the libertarian who will debate me on Locke or maybe Hume over the steroid-fueled rage machine cop who’s the equivalent of “Hulk Smash!”

  91. #91 |  SP | 

    Clifford is worse than the garbage he allegedly protects the public from.

  92. #92 |  matt | 

    The only glimmer of justice may be that Clifford can be made to pay in a civil suit where the “blue wall” will not help him.

  93. #93 |  Militant Libertarian » Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma | 

    [...] Posted: June 25th, 2012 by Militant Libertarian by The Agitator [...]

  94. #94 |  FreeWestRadio.com » Blog Archive » Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma | 

    [...] by The Agitator [...]

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