RICHMOND, Ind. — The Richmond Police Department is providing an update on the condition of Officer Seara Burton.
On Wednesday, the department said despite the best efforts of all the doctors and nurses at Miami Valley Hospital, Officer Seara Burton’s injuries have been determined to be unrecoverable. On Thursday, September 1, 2022, Seara will be taken off of life support.
Officer Burton was shot on August 10 while responding to a call from other officers to help with a traffic stop near 12th Street and C Street in Richmond. When she arrived, Officer Burton found a moped driven by a male, identified as 47-year-old Phillip M. Lee.
Indiana State Police say Officer Burton’s K9 partner Brev indicated the possible presence of narcotics sniffing around the moped.
ISP said while officers were talking with Lee, he pulled out a firearm and shot several rounds toward officers. Officer Burton was struck. FOX59 spoke to witnesses at the scene who said the officer was shot in the head. Police later confirmed Burton did suffer a gunshot wound to the head.
The shooting took place less than two weeks after Elwood police officer Noah Shahnavaz was killed during a traffic stop involving a repeat violent offender.
Burton was taken to a local hospital before being airlifted to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Lee was transported to a Richmond hospital after being shot.
Burton remained in extremely critical condition after surgery. While she showed slight signs of responsiveness, she did not regain consciousness.
The department said Seara will live on and continue to be a hero with her selfless gift of organ donation. Final arrangements for Officer Burton will be released in the coming days.
As for Brev, Britt said Burton’s K-9 partner is doing fine and living with a Richmond police officer who previously had a K-9. The chief said he’s had “a lot of people” inquire about the Belgian Malinois’ welfare.
Richmond Police Chief Mike Britt said the department was devastated by the shooting, calling Burton a “fine officer.”
Burton is a four-year veteran and was recently elevated to the K-9 unit. Burton was also engaged and supposed to be married soon after the shooting happened.
Her fiancée, Sierra Neal, spoke out on social media the Sunday after the shooting thanking people for their support. She said Burton is the strongest person she knows.
“Seara Burton I love you more than anything in this entire world and I am so very proud of you. You are my person,” Neal wrote.
The Richmond community and beyond held rallies and vigils in support of Officer Burton while businesses, community members and more offered donations toward Burton and her family.
After the shooting, officers recovered the gun used in the shooting, a black Ruger Max 9 9mm, with a 10-round magazine in it. Court documents show the following drugs and paraphernalia were found in Lee’s scooter:
- Seven syringes
- Two small plastic bags containing a substance that tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine
- One small plastic bag containing a substance that field tested presumptively positive for cocaine
- One small plastic bag containing a substance that tested presumptively positive for heroin
The State of Indiana asked for a $1 million bond because of Lee’s habitual offender status. He has a lengthy criminal history, with multiple convictions for burglary and drug possession.
Lee was most recently charged with child molesting in 2019, although that case was dismissed in April. At the time of the shooting, he was on parole on drug charges.
In addition to the two counts of attempted murder, Lee has also been charged with:
- Possession of firearm by serious violent felon,
- Possession of methamphetamine,
- Possession of cocaine,
- Possession of a narcotic drug
Matt Adams, Courtney Spinelli, Matt Christy, Luther Johnson, Izzy Karpinski and Lindsay Stone contributed to this report.