Chief: Richmond officer shows ‘how strong she is’ day after being taken off life support

Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton has been at Miami Valley Hospital since a medical helicopter brought her there the night of Aug. 10. Twenty-three days later, Police Chief Michael Britt says Burton, 28, continues to remind everyone just how to tough she is.

Burton, a K-9 officer and four-year veteran of the force, was responding to a call from other officers to assist with a traffic stop in the area of North 12th Street and C Street. The traffic stop was in connection to a drug investigation.

>> Richmond Officer Burton ‘still with us’ day after being taken off life support, chief says

During the traffic stop, Burton’s K-9 partner was used to conduct an open-air sniff around the moped and indicated the possible presence of narcotics, according to police. As Burton and her dog approached, police said the man they pulled over, Phillip Lee, pulled out a handgun and opened fire.

Burton was hit in the head and another officer narrowly missed being hit. Other officers on the scene returned fire and Lee ran, according to police. After a brief foot chase, Lee was apprehended and treated for gunshot wounds by the officers.

Burton’s shooting and critical injuries shocked her community.

“I saw the officer laying right there, it was real, it was happening, there’s no going back and I had to hold myself up with both hands on the wall,” Michelle Partin, of Richmond, said.

Richmond officers and officers from many other departments rallied around Burton and her family. Her medical team worked around the clock to provide her the best available care.

>> PHOTOS: Richmond police arrive at Miami Valley Hospital; Officer Seara Burton to be taken off life support today

Burton had been scheduled to be married the week she was shot. 10 days after the shooting, her fiancé, Sierra Neal, released a heartbreaking video to social media, showing her walking through the hospital hallways in a wedding dress and entering Burton’s room.

Her medical team continued to work, but on Aug. 31, Burton’s injuries were declared unrecoverable and Richmond Police announced she would be removed from life support. That happened Thursday, but according to Britt, she’s been breathing on her own and is “still with us.”

While Burton’s in the hospital, Indiana prosecutors have been working to prepare a case against Lee. He has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, three counts of drug possession and one count of possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, according to Wayne County court documents. His bond has been set at $1 million.