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The nation in brief

by Compiled Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports | April 20, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

Coast Guard ends search for boat's crew

CUT OFF, La. -- The U.S. Coast Guard said it suspended at sunset Monday the search for crew members who disappeared when a lift boat capsized off Louisiana last week, and authorities do not expect to find more survivors from the vessel.

The grim news from Capt. Will Watson, commander of the Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, comes after days of searching for the missing workers from the oil industry lift boat Seacor Power, which capsized in about 50 to 55 feet of water on April 13 during a fierce storm in the Gulf of Mexico about eight miles south of Port Fourchon. Six of the 19 workers on the boat were rescued within hours of the wreck; five more bodies were found in the water or on board the vessel. Eight remain missing.

The president of the Seacor Marine, which owns the boat, said during the news conference that private divers will continue to search the entire vessel. John Gellert said they were about halfway through the vessel as of midday Monday.

While many families have questioned why the ship was out in such stormy seas, Gellert said the decision on whether to go was entirely up to the captain, David Ledet, 63, who is among the dead.

Lift boats have three legs that can be lowered to the sea floor to raise the ship off the water to serve as a temporary offshore platform.

Gellert said it appeared the legs were fully retracted -- a position he described as its "most vulnerable" -- but there are indications that the captain was trying to lower the legs when the ship capsized.

High court rejects case on truck seizure

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a Kentucky man whose pickup was seized at the Mexican border and held by the federal government for more than two years.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place a lower-court ruling against Gerardo Serrano, who was asking the court to force the government to be required to promptly hold hearings when it takes people's property under forfeiture laws.

Those laws allow the government to seize property without ever having to prove it was used for illicit purposes.

Serrano was crossing the border at Eagle Pass, Texas, on his way to visit relatives in 2015 when federal border agents searched and then took possession of his Ford F-250 pickup.

The agents justified the seizure because they found "munitions of war" in the vehicle, five bullets -- but no gun. Serrano said he angered the agents by taking picture of the border crossing on his cellphone and then refusing to hand over the device's password, although he said he deleted the photos.

He didn't get the truck back until 2017.

Man dies after gunbattle with police

DETROIT -- A man who drove through a Detroit crime scene where five people were shot and one person died in a car crash was fatally shot by police early Monday after a pursuit and gunbattle, the city's police chief said.

The shooting of the 27-year-old man was caught on police video, snippets of which were shown at a news conference. More than a dozen shots appeared to have been fired by the man, who wasn't identified, and officers.

Officers were investigating an earlier shooting, which occurred about 10:50 p.m. Sunday on the city's west side, when the man drove by in an SUV and fired a shot that struck a police vehicle, Chief James Craig said.

Officers pursued the SUV at speeds estimated at more than 100 mph. When the SUV stopped in a parking lot, the driver got out and fired shots at an officer, who returned fire. The driver then ran a few blocks before officers in a police SUV caught up. Shots again were fired and the man collapsed. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Video shows officer punching protester

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A police officer in Kentucky was seen on video repeatedly punching a protester in the head while the man was face down on the ground and being arrested by several officers during a police brutality protest Sunday afternoon.

Several Louisville Metro police officers were seen in a Facebook video of 29-year-old Denorver "Dee" Garrett being arrested near Jefferson Square Park, the site of numerous demonstrations over police brutality and the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was shot and killed by Louisville police in March 2020.

In the video, an officer attempting to handcuff Garrett tells him several times to "stop flexing." The officer then yells "stop" once more before multiple officers force Garrett to the ground. The initial officer then punches Garrett's head at least three times.

News outlets reported an arrest citation that stated Garrett, who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, was taken to the ground by an officer who "delivered 2-3 closed hand strikes" to his face.

Police Chief Erika Shields said in a statement that the video "raises serious questions and is not consistent with LMPD training" and that the department is investigating the officer's conduct.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

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