I-Team 8

Richmond police shooting suspect’s criminal record spans 30 years

RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) — Richmond Police Department Officer Seara Burton on Thursday was in the hospital and fighting after she was shot during a traffic stop Wednesday night.

I-Team 8 looked into the criminal history of the suspect, Phillip M. Lee. Court documents show the 47-year-old man has been in and out of the criminal justice system over the past 30 years, starting when he was 17 years old.

I-Team 8 on Thursday talked to two people who say they witnessed the shooting. Burton made the stop with her police dog named Brev. The two people who talked with I-Team 8 said the traffic stop of Lee on a moped was routine until he pulled out a gun and indiscriminately started shooting.

Witness Steven Day said that “as soon as she put the dog in the vehicle the guy, they pulled over, started shooting.”

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office shared a jail-booking photo of Lee taken in December.

Lee’s record is populated with several drug arrests, counts of resisting law enforcement, and multiple traffic violations. He was charged as habitual offender in 2017. He is not legally allowed to buy or possess a firearm.

Michelle Partin lives next door to Lee. She told I-team 8 that she was on her porch Wednesday night when the police showed up. “He fired one shot, a pop, and then there was a very short pause, and then there was pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, where our PD (police department) returned fire.”   

Day lives across the street. He also was sitting on his porch when the police stopped Lee. “The guy they pulled over, started shooting, and I seen her go down.”

Lee then ran in between the two houses and was gunned down by police before he got past the end of the porch.

Partin said, “To me, what happened doesn’t make sense at all. I don’t see why it had to be that extreme. It was just an ordinary traffic stop with just a few more officers simply because of his background.”

I-Team 8 talked to Lee’s sister on Thursday afternoon. She declined to go on camera, but said Lee had been a tough mental state for the past couple of weeks and he didn’t want to go back to jail. She went on to say that Lee had been taking methamphetamine and had not slept in days.

Authorities investigate a police shooting at North 12th and North C streets in Richmond, Indiana, on the night of Aug. 10, 2022. (WISH Photo)
Investigators on the night of Aug. 10, 2022, work at the scene of a police shooting in Richmond, Indiana. (WISH Photo/Reece Lindquist)
Phillip M. Lee. (Provided Photo/Wayne County Sheriff’s Department)