Richmond police officer critically injured was supposed to get married Friday, chief says

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Friday, August 19th was supposed to be a joyful day for Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton, but instead she remains in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital nearly two weeks after she was shot in the line of duty.

>> Hope, prayers continue for wounded Richmond Police Officer Burton, who’s still critical, chief says

In an exclusive one-on-one interview, News Center 7 spoke with Richmond Police Chief Michael Britt for the first time since the night Burton was shot.

Burton was supposed to be getting married today. Her fiancée had been posting countdowns to the big day on social media.

Chief Britt told News Center 7 it’s hard to think how she’s in the hospital right now instead of walking down the aisle.

“I prefer to think of it as even though today was her wedding day, she went through a terrible event and she’s still with us,” Britt said. “That in itself is plenty to be thankful for. The important thing to remember is the wedding is probably not going to take place today, but that love is still in place and her fiancée is by her side continually.”

For the first time, Chief Britt told News Center 7 that Burton’s fiancée was doing a ride along and in the car the moment a suspect shot Burton in the head during a traffic stop.

“Seara’s injury was traumatic, but there’s other trauma that goes along with this,” Britt said. “That was nothing that her fiancée should have seen or she didn’t need to see that, as well as the other officers. It was a terrible thing to deal with.”

>> Community holds prayer vigil for Richmond police officer

As she continues to fight in the hospital, many in the Richmond community are providing support for Burton and the police department.

Jon Turner says he’s known Officer Burton for years. First as a fellow city employee, then as someone who Officer Burton helped when he called police to complain about drug activity on his block.

“She’s awesome. I mean she’s very personable,” Turner said.

There’s hope in the community amid the support they’ve shown, which is something Chief Britt told News Center 7 gives his officers a good feeling inside.

“The Richmond community has truly proven that it is a community that cares. They stepped up more than anybody could have expected,” Britt said. “They’re providing for Officer Burton and their police department in ways that I never dreamed possible.”

It’s a love Britt says a family, an entire community, and a couple has relied on and can feel, even if it’s a love that can’t be celebrated as planned on what was supposed to be a wedding day.

“If they can’t get married today, they still have that bond. And that’s important,” Britt said.

Britt told News Center 7 that Burton remains in critical condition, but they get little signs occasionally that show them that she’s still fighting.

The man accused of shooting Burton, Phillip Lee, made his appearance in Wayne County Circuit Court Friday afternoon.

Lee, currently in the hospital but in custody of Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, appeared virtually from his hospital bed.

He was out on parole for a prison stay in which he was released on Dec. 31 2021. The charges he faces violate his parole.

Lee learned he will be going straight to a state prison facility in Indiana before he even goes to trial in this case.

A judge decided to keep his bond at $1.5 million citing his criminal history, Lee has been to prison five times, and the “gravity of the charges” against him.