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Thousands Raised At Benefit For SWAT Punch Victim

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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RAMSEY, Minn. (WCCO) – A benefit was held Saturday to help a man who was allegedly hurt by a Minneapolis police officer.

Brian Vander Lee had two brain surgeries after police say he was punched last month at a restaurant by Minneapolis SWAT Sgt. David Clifford, who was charged with first degree assault.

Brian Vander Lee is slowly recovering from his injuries. He works in advertising at the Star Tribune. The breadwinner of his family, Vander Lee is not sure when he’ll go back to work.

Early Saturday, more than a hundred motorcycle riders set out on a seven-hour benefit ride for the Vander Lee family. Motorcycling is one of Brian’s favorite hobbies.

The celebration eventually led to JR’s Outpost in Ramsey. They sold T-shirts and silent auction items to help the father of four get back on his feet.

Tracy Marshall is a close friend of the family, spoke about Brian during one of their stops at Long Siding Bar and Grill in Princeton.

“Brian’s been a very good friend, very long-time friend and…seeing him have to raise three little, four little actually, girls with no income coming in, it’s hard. So we all want to be here to support him so that he can get back on his feet,” she said.

Kourtney Vander Lee, Brian’s Wife, said the outpouring reflects her husband’s nature.

“It gives people a good idea the kind of guy Brian is. They all came out to support him… that’s why they’re all here,” she said.

Vander Lee showed up for a couple of hours to offer personal thanks, and pass out plenty of hugs. Doctors didn’t want him to stay too long.

His family said he is getting stronger every day.

“Who knows how long it’s going to take, but it’s going to be ok and he’s going to be back to Brian,” said Kourtney.

As of Saturday evening, $27 thousand has been raised for the Vander Lee family.

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