Friday, July 12, 2013

Was Anything Learned?

Minneapolis police sergeant David Clifford, convicted of first-degree assault a few months ago, was sentenced yesterday to almost four years. He'll serve a bit over two years, plus probation.

The recommended sentence for his crime is seven years.

The judge's sentence strikes me as just about right. Clifford clearly needed to serve some time, instead of just probation, even though his lawyer tried to argue the now-former cop had "been punished because he no longer can be a peace officer and lost civil rights because he's a felon" (quoting the Star Tribune).

Ironic. If he'd acted like a peace officer, he wouldn't have been prosecuted in the first place. And it's almost funny that his lawyer said the loss of his civil rights is a punishment, when no one seems to care about that when the people losing their rights aren't white.

At the same time, seven years seems too long a sentence for a single punch, even though his victim, Brian Vander Lee, has suffered substantial, ongoing injury as a result. Clifford couldn't have imagined that one punch would be so devastating. But his indifference to that possibility merits the four years he got.

I should note that I probably wouldn't have posted about this if it weren't for one incredible detail added to the story in both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press coverage. As the reporters approached the Cliffords and Vander Lees for comment after the hearing ended,

Clifford's wife, Kelly Clifford, had parting words for the Vander Lees after the hearing, telling the couple, "Don't drink too much," before quickly leaving the courtroom. 
Wow. That's some gall, lady.

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