DAYTON, Ohio — Sierra Neal now considers herself married.
The fiancée of Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton celebrated the couple’s planned wedding day Friday while Burton remains in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Burton was shot in the head Aug. 10 during a traffic stop related to a narcotics investigation.
Neal posted a TikTok video over the weekend of her wearing her wedding dress as she’s escorted Friday to Burton’s hospital room. Hospital staff watch as an emotional Neal passes through the hallway in her strapless white gown and veil with a long train.
She walked into Burton’s room and up to the foot of the hospital bed. Zach Bryan’s “Something in Orange” played on the video.
“This walk was supposed to look a lot different, but I will always be thankful we still got to celebrate,” Neal wrote with the video. “Even if it is not legal on paper, you are my wife. I love you Seara.”
She included the hashtags #searastrong, #burtonstrong and #wedding.
A photo of Burton and her K-9 partner, Brev, hangs on her room’s door. Burton, 28, has been an RPD officer four years. She and Brev, who is being cared for by a former RPD K-9 handler, began working together during April after they completed training.
Neal, who is a firefighter and paramedic in Centerville, Ohio, previously posted on Tik Tok a video of she and Burton captioned: “What I would give to hear her voice and laugh right now.”
On the couple’s wedding day, the man accused of shooting Burton, Phillip Matthew Lee, 47, of Richmond appeared by Zoom before Judge April Drake for his initial court hearing. Lee was shown on a video monitor in a hospital bed that Drake said was located in a medical facility.
Lee is charged with three counts of Level 1 felony attempted murder, Level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and three Level 5 felony counts of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. He is also accused of being a habitual offender.
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has custody of Lee at the medical facility, and Drake set Lee’s bond at $1.5 million, saying his criminal history and the seriousness of his alleged offenses made that bond appropriate. Drake scheduled Lee’s trial Nov. 1.
According to RPD Chief Mike Britt, Neal was riding along with Burton on Aug. 10 when Burton, a K-9 officer, was requested to assist with the stop of Lee, who was riding a scooter. She was in Burton’s police vehicle when the shooting occurred.
Brev indicated the presence of a narcotics odor in the scooter, according to an affidavit of probable cause, and Burton returned Brev to her vehicle. As she walked toward Lee and Officer Austin Adams on the sidewalk, Lee pulled out a concealed handgun.
Officer testimony and a video recording of the event show Lee firing at and missing Adams, then shooting the approaching Burton, according to the affidavit. He also fired at Officer Cody Phillips as he ran from the scene. Lee was wounded by officer fire and apprehended.
A Level 1 felony conviction carries a sentence of up to 40 years.
Since Burton’s injury, the community has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a special RPD Blue Angels fund established for Burton and her family. The main Blue Angels fund, which is in the Richmond City Employees Federal Credit Union, is generally used to provide help for children, especially at Christmas.
Businesses and individuals have organized fundraisers or just simply contributed to the fund. One Facebook post showed a $15,125 donation check that Smiley’s Pub & Beer Garden raised from its golf outing. Smiley’s also conducted an auction Saturday. No final total has been released, but a Facebook post shows a signed photo of Desmond Bane guarding Lebron James that sold for $10,000.