Ex-wife of alleged assault victim testifies at Minneapolis cop’s trial
The defense continued its cross-examination of Brian Vander Lee’s ex-wife Monday in the third day of the Anoka County trial against the Minneapolis police officer accused of assaulting him.
Defense attorney Fred Bruno asked Kourtney Vander Lee to look at various still photographs pulled from surveillance video taken at Tanner’s Station in Andover on June 16.
Sgt. David Clifford is accused of punching Brian Vander Lee about 7:19 that night after the Ramsey man reportedly offended Clifford and others in his party by using profanity and talking loudly on his cellphone.
After falling and hitting his head on the bar’s concrete patio, Brian Vander Lee underwent two surgeries to repair bleeding in his brain. He has subsequently returned for a third surgery.
Bruno said the images shown in court Monday depicted Brian Vander Lee raising his left arm and taking a swing at Clifford.
“Isn’t it correct Brian Vander Lee is throwing a left hook there?” Bruno asked while displaying one of the stills.
While acknowledging some of the photos showed her ex-husband’s hand raised, Kourtney Vander Lee said the arm came up as Brian Vander Lee was falling backward from Clifford’s punch.
She denied Brian Vander Lee swung at Clifford or displayed any other aggressive behavior toward him before the altercation.
The defense maintains Clifford, 48, was acting in self-defense when he punched Vander Lee, 43. The state says the act was unprovoked.
Each party has stated repeatedly that the surveillance video of the altercation, which lasts only seconds, bears out its side of the story.
After Kourtney Vander Lee testified, the prosecution called the shift manager on duty at Tanner’s Station that night to the stand.
The trial is expected to continue through the week.
Kourtney and Brian Vander Lee are engaged to be remarried.
Sarah Horner can be reached at 651-228-5539. Follow her at twitter.com/hornsarah.