Richmond police officer Seara Burton laid to rest

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("A row of tea candles" by Markus Grossalber, CC BY 2.0)

When a police officer dies on the job, many times their funerals are long affairs. The people who honor them have a lot to say about honor and sacrifice. That describes Richmond Police Officer Seara Burton’s service Monday at Richmond High School.

“If it is your goal to honor Seara, you must not leave here with a heart full of anger and sadness,” said Richmond Mayor David Snow, who recalled administering the oath she took in 2018 to serve.

“Seara swore to that oath and today she has paid an ultimate sacrifice to keep that word,” said Snow, recalling the promise to keep the community safe. He said Burton’s death and the story surrounding it, including the story of her life, has united the community “in an unbelievable way”.

Burton was shot in August and died Sept. 18, after being taken off life support.

“We are not naive to the fact that we are surrounded by evil and violence,” said Lt. Donnie Benedict. “We also know that evil and violence can rear its ugly head in our community, just like many other communities around this country.”

Benedict then mentioned Officer Noah Shahanavaz, who was shot just days before Burton, killed when he pulled someone over in Elwood.

“For the past 48 days our officers have experienced pain and sorrow like never before,” he said. “Some call this the weight of the badge…I can tell you that this badge has never weighed heavier than it does today.”

Perhaps the weight was even more for Officer Amy Miller, who was not only Burton’s colleague, but also her stepmother. She recalled conversations with her stepdaughter about the job and the dangers that are inherent within.

“When she was first hired we had many talks about the job and what she was about to face and go through,” said Miller. “Seara I will miss those phone calls during your shift asking me for advice on reports and calls. I will miss our talks in the PD parking lot.”

Burton was close to getting married to someone who shared her name, Sierra Neal, who would have shared Burton’s name, exactly. Tearfully, she recalled the talk the two had at the beginning of their relationship “discussing the dangers of her career”.

“I told her I would completely support her in her career. But, even in that moment I felt there’s no way something like this could happen to such a wonderful human.”

Burton had the support of fellow officers from all over the state and country, who joined after in a procession to Crown Hill Cemetery and the Public Safety section in Indianapolis, where her body will remain, separate from a soul that has been remembered and prayed for by friends and family for the past several weeks.

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