RICHMOND — Richmond K-9 Police Officer Seara Brooke Burton was remembered by her family and hundreds of friends, community members and fellow law enforcement officers at her funeral Monday.
"Seara carried her positive, compassionate, and happy spirit with her always," a biography of Burton in the funeral program read. "Seara was a bright, beautiful light in this darkening world and was selfishly taken from so many that loved and adored her."
Before joining the Richmond Police Department in 2018, Burton worked as a fitness trainer and corrections officer at the Wayne County Jail.
In March 2022, Burton became a K-9 handler and joined her partner Brev.
Last summer, Burton met her fiancée, Sierra Neal. The couple was nine days away from getting married when Burton was shot Aug. 10.
Neal, also spoke at the funeral. Aside from the first name, they also shared the middle name Brooke. Their first date was eight hours long at Kings Island when the feels like temperature was more than 100 degrees.
"I remember my brother saying 'hopefully you like her, because that'll be one long, awkward date," Neal shared. "The connection was instant ... I feel as if there are no amount of words that could completely describe just who Seara is and what she meant not only to me, but so many others."
Neal says Burton brought joy to everyone around her. The couple already had names picked out for their future children.
"Behind that badge is the woman of my dreams - a woman who could be treated and talked to in awful ways for eight hours a day at work and could still come home and laugh and be so kind-hearted," Neal said. "Seara was my best friend, my lover, the heart of the happiest year of my life. I feel an emptiness without her here and I will forever be thankful for the purest love she gave me."
Burton's stepmom, Ami Miller, says she saw Seara as her daughter. Miller also serves on the Richmond Police Department.
"I may not have given birth to her, but in my heart she is my daughter and will forever be," Miller said. "Seara had the determination and drive that all of us should strive for ... I was so incredibly proud of Seara. I made sure to tell her that as much as I could. I hope she knew just how proud I was and how much I loved her. Seara was the strongest woman I have ever known, and she recently just showed the world just how strong she was."
Miller says Burton would stop by her house to let Brev take a break, and the two would often have FaceTime calls to talk about the work they had done the day or night before. They also talked in the Richmond Police parking lot and Burton would call Miller for advice.
"I had no doubt in my mind that she was going to be great [at policing] and she was," Miller said. "We could talk for hours about the job."
Richmond Officer Keifer Uphaus introduced himself as Burton's "work husband."
"Seara's mere presence was inspiring. She knew her calling was to serve her community. When her time came to do so, it was always at the highest level in all aspects," Uphaus said. "She was outspoken and driven in all aspects of her life. When she set her mind to doing something, there was no stopping her. She had a smile and a laugh that would undoubtedly make you follow her anywhere."
Uphaus says Burton told her that there was no doubt she would spend the rest of her life with Neal.
"She made sure that she told me that every day," he said.
Lt. Donnie Benedict with the Richmond Police Department shared the story of the impact one $8 donation had on the department.
"Off-duty, Seara loved laughing, gaming, traveling, lifting heavy weights, drinking coffee, eating vegan, and most importantly, spending time with her family and fiancée," the program read.
After an hours-long processional from Richmond to Indianapolis, Burton was honored and remembered with a 21-gun salute, the playing of "Taps" and a flag ceremony.
View a slideshow of photos of K-9 Officer Seara Burton below.