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Man accused of shooting Richmond police officer makes 1st court appearance

Phillip Lee appeared on a video conference from his hospital bed in Dayton, Ohio. He's facing several charges, including attempted murder.

RICHMOND, Ind. — The man accused of critically wounding a Richmond police officer during a shooting made his first court appearance in the case Friday afternoon.   

Phillip Lee is charged with three counts of attempted murder, unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and several other drug charges. He is accused of shooting Richmond Police K-9 Ofc. Seara Burton during a traffic stop on Aug. 10.

According to court documents, Burton and her K-9 partner Brev were called to assist officers with a search after they believed Lee conducted a drug transaction in a garage. Police said while conducting an "open-air sniff" around Lee's moped, Brev indicated the possible presence of narcotics.

According to court documents, while officers were speaking with Lee, he allegedly pulled out a concealed firearm and shot several rounds toward officers. Court documents claim video of the incident shows Lee aiming at the officers' "head and facial areas." Burton was struck by the gunfire. An officer next to her was nearly shot in the head. Other officers on the scene returned fire, and Lee shot at them as he ran away.

RELATED: Chief: Wounded Richmond police officer remains in critical condition; suspect charged with attempted murder of 3 officers

After a brief foot chase, Lee was shot and apprehended on the porch of the home where he lived. Police said the gun he used was a 9mm with a 10-round magazine.

Credit: Indiana Department of Correction
Phillip M. Lee, 47, of Richmond.

Lee made his initial appearance on a video conference from his hospital bed in Dayton, Ohio. A judge asked Lee questions about his educational background and if he planned to hire his own attorney. 

Prosecutors filed a third attempted murder charge against Lee for shooting at a third officer in the Aug. 10 incident. With the additional charge, the judge raised Lee’s bond to $1.5 million.

Several of Burton's fellow officers were at the courthouse to watch the proceedings, which lasted about 10 minutes.

RELATED: Suspect in Richmond police shooting claimed years earlier he 'was not going back to jail and would shoot any officer or agent that encountered him'

Court records show Lee has an extensive rap sheet over the past 28 years, including violent crimes. For that reason, the judge set his bail at $1.5 million.

His jury trial is set to begin on Nov. 1. If Lee gets out of the hospital before that date, he's likely to be sent to a Department of Correction facility to await trial. 

Credit: Indiana State Police
Richmond Police Ofc. Seara Burton and K-9 Brev

Friday was supposed to be Burton's wedding day. In a recent Facebook post, her fiancée said Burton is the strongest person she knows and that she continues to prove that every single day.

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