Richmond, IN – Richmond Police Department (RPD) Officer Seara Burton died in the line of duty on Sunday after being shot in the head during a traffic stop more than five weeks earlier.
The RPD confirmed the 28-year-old officer’s death in a press release on Sept. 18.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce that Officer Seara Burton #140/K9-2 passed away at 9:59 p.m. tonight at Reid Health surrounded by her family,” the department said. “She succumbed to the injury she received in a criminal act that occurred on August 10th, 2022.”
Officer Burton was removed from life support on Sept. 1, WTHR previously reported.
“Despite the very best efforts of all the doctors and nurses at Miami Valley Hospital, Officer Seara Burton’s injuries have been determined to be unrecoverable,” RPD Major Jon Bales confirmed in a statement one day earlier. “Tomorrow, Thursday, September 1, 2022, Seara will be taken off of life support.”
The heroic officer “will live on and continue to be a hero with her selfless gift of organ donation,” he added.
Officer Burton was transferred to a hospice facility on Sept. 3, where she remained until succumbing to her wounds on Sunday.
“We would sincerely like to thank the Richmond community, and those who have supported Seara, her Family, and the Department from near and far,” the RPD said. “The family is extremely grateful for the massive amount of support from the community.”
The events leading up to the shooting began at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 10, after police stopped a man who was riding a moped in the area of C Street and North 12th Street, Clay County News reported.
The man operating the moped was later identified as 47-year-old Phillip Lee, WTHR reported.
During the investigation, Officer Burton and her partner, K9 Brev, responded to conduct an “open-air sniff” of the moped, according to Indiana State Police (ISP).
Investigators said the K9 indicated the possible presence of narcotics during the sniff, WTHR reported.
Officers were speaking with Lee when he suddenly pulled out a gun and opened fire on them, an ISP spokesperson told reporters.
Officer Burton was hit in the head by the gunfire and other officers at the scene immediately returned fire, the ISP said.
Lee took off running and was apprehended after a brief foot pursuit.
Officers provided first aid for his gunshot wounds before he was transported to Reid Hospital in Richmond by ambulance, WTHR reported.
Lee, a convicted felon who police described as a known drug dealer, has been charged with multiple offenses, to include two counts of attempted murder, WXIN reported.
Police said Lee was carrying a 9mm handgun, seven syringes, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine at the time of his arrest.
Officer Burton was rushed to a local hospital before being airlifted to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio in extremely critical condition, RPD Chief Michael Britt said.
She spent the next five weeks fighting for her life.
“The police department is obviously devastated,” Chief Britt said, according to WTHR. “She’s a fine officer, and we have a family environment here.”
Officer Burton served the RPD for four years, according to Clay County News.
She recently became a member of the department’s K9 Unit and she and K9 Brev graduated from training in April, WTHR reported.
Richmond Mayor Dave Snow described Officer Burton as “a tremendous” public servant, WTHR reported.
The shooting occurred less than two weeks before Officer Burton was scheduled to be married.
Her fiancé, Sierra Neal, wore a white wedding gown and carried a bouquet of flowers to Officer Burton’s bedside at the hospital on what should have been their wedding day.
“This walk was supposed to look a lot different, but I will always be thankful we still got to celebrate,” Neal wrote in a video caption on TikTok. “Even if it is not legal on paper, you are my wife. I love you Seara.”
Condolences to the family of Richmond Indiana K9 Police Officer Seara Burton who died 5 weeks after being shot in the head during a traffic stop.
She was to have gotten married the week after she was shot in yet another case of how many chances are too many chances.
A thread: pic.twitter.com/PSxdArpX9V
— Gigi Graciette (@GigiGraciette) September 19, 2022
HONORING A HERO: both sides of the street are lined with people as the Richmond community waits for Ofc Seara Burton to come home. 🕊
— Bianca Reyes (@BiancaReyesTV) September 19, 2022
The body of fallen Richmond PD K9 Officer Seara Burton has just arrived in Richmond following a procession from the coroner’s office in Dayton, OH. Community members lined the sides of the road as she was escorted back home by Indiana/Ohio LE officers. @FOX59 @CBS4Indy pic.twitter.com/o6AQxVaURW
— Courtney Spinelli (@CourtSpinelliTV) September 19, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Seara Burton, your life mattered.