Female Officer Shot in Face Dies From Her Injuries

Seara Burton was due to marry shortly after she was shot on Aug. 10
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2022 12:55 PM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2022 12:33 PM CDT

This story has been updated throughout to reflect the officer's death. An Indiana police officer who was shot in the face during a traffic stop has died more than two weeks after she was taken off life support. The Richmond Police Department said 28-year-old Seara Burton—who was supposed to have gotten married last month—died Sunday night, reports the AP. Burton had been taken off life support on Sept. 1 after it was determined that she would be unable to recover from her injuries.

WHIO reports that on Aug. 10, Burton responded to a call from officers needing assistance and arrived with her K-9 partner. The dog indicated the possible presence of narcotics after sniffing around the driver's moped. Police say that as officers spoke with Phillip Matthew Lee, he allegedly displayed a weapon and fired several times in the officers' direction. Lee reportedly fled but was apprehended soon after. Burton was hit and taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Fox News reports the four-year veteran of the Richmond force had "recently been elevated to the position of K-9 handler" and was to be married in mid-August. WTHR reports Burton's fiancee, Sierra Neal, posted video to TikTok that shows her walking toward Burton's hospital room on Aug. 20 in her wedding dress. She captioned it: "This walk was supposed to look a lot different, but I will always be thankful we still got to celebrate. Even if it is not legal on paper, you are my wife I love you Seara." It's been watched millions of times.

Richmond Mayor Jon Bales had this to say in a statement, per WTHR: "Seara will live on and continue to be a hero with her selfless gift of organ donation. Officer Burton will continue to serve others long after her passing. ... Seara's family wanted to include the community in sharing this information. The incredible outpouring of support has been truly heartwarming." Suspected shooter Lee, 47, previously pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, and those charges were expected to be upgraded in the wake of Burton's death. (Read more police officer death stories.)

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