Sergeant Matt Ratana

image copyrightNeil Donohue

image captionSgt Matt Ratana was a keen rugby union coach as well as being a fan of performance motorcycles and weight-training

A long-serving police officer shot dead in a custody centre in south London has been named as Sgt Matiu Ratana aged 54.

New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana, known as Matt, was two months from retiring when he was shot in the chest in Croydon.

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick described him as “a big guy” who was “big in heart”.

After the shooting, at about 02:15 BST, the suspect, 23, is thought to have turned the firearm on himself. He is in a critical condition in hospital.

Ms Dick said Sgt Ratana had been well known locally and beyond.

“He will be remembered so fondly in Croydon and missed there, as well as in the Met and the rugby world,” she said.

media captionMayor of London Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary Priti Patel joined Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick for a minute’s silence

A minute’s silence was held at 16:00 BST at New Scotland Yard and Croydon Police Station to pay tribute to the officer.

Sgt Ratana, who was known as Matt, had served with the Met for almost 30 years having moved to the UK in 1989.

The 54-year-old was originally from the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand and was educated at Palmerston North Boy’s High School’s, a town north of the capital, Wellington.

image copyrightEPA
image captionThe officer has been described as a professional and inspirational colleague

He had served with the Met in various parts of London including Hackney and Selhurst, with his last posting as custody sergeant in Croydon, where he managed suspects who are brought into the cells.

He was on duty in that role at the Windmill Road centre when he was shot dead at about 02:15.

The BBC has been told the shooting happened during questioning of the suspect about Covid-19.

Outside work Sgt Ratana was a highly experienced rugby union coach, leading teams in Worthing, close to Goring-by-Sea where he then lived and in East Grinstead, where he was living when he died.

Ryan Morlen, assistant head coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club, described the 54-year-old as “an absolutely lovely bloke”.

image captionForensic workers were seen at the police station on Friday

Earlier, BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was believed the suspect was known to counter-terrorism police having been on their radar in the past, though the Met has not officially confirmed that.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the man was arrested on suspicion of possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition.

He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and taken to the Croydon Custody Centre in a police vehicle, before being escorted into the building.

  • Croydon police shooting: Mourners pay tribute

  • Police officer shot dead at custody centre

The shots were fired as officers prepared to search the suspect, who was still handcuffed, with a metal detector, the IOPC said.

“A non-police issue firearm, which appears to be a revolver, has been recovered from the scene. Further ballistic work will be required,” said IOPC regional director Sal Naseem.

The Met have said a murder investigation was under way.

Related Topics

  • Croydon

  • Metropolitan Police Service

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