Croydon police officer shooting LIVE: Matt Ratana moved to custody to be ‘safer’ and work final months before retirement

POLICE officer Sergeant Matt Ratana was shot dead inside a Croydon police station early on Friday morning.

Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was gunned down by a suspect who was reportedly known to terror cops and had been arrested for carrying ammunition just minutes earlier.

The handcuffed man managed to pull a gun from his trousers and shoot the veteran cop dead before turning the gun on himself, causing critical but as yet non-fatal injuries.

New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana, who was shot in the chest, was a father, and a keen rugby player and coach described as a "leader among men" by pals.

He was praised by Met Chief Dame Cressida Dick as a "talented officer".

Sgt Ratana had moved to safer work in custody as he neared retirement.

He was due to step back from police work in just a few months and had taken on shifts at Croydon Custody Centre.

Pal Neil Donohue, told BBC Breakfast: "He thought it was his safest option just to see him through to his retirement and no-one expected this to happen – certainly not within the police cells."

Follow our Croydon shooting live blog for the latest news and updates...

  • SUSPECT STILL IN CRITICAL CONDITION

    The suspect who shot dead police sergeant Matt Ratana yesterday is still in a critical condition in hospital.

    The 23-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition and managed to get a gun inside the station.

    He shot himself as he fired and is still in hospital after the tragic incident.

  • BODY SEARCH

    A source said: “There are rules preventing any intimate body searches on the street. 

    “It can only be done when a suspect is booked into a custody suite.”

    The source added: “The sergeant opened the door to admit him and take his temperature to comply with Covid rules. But the suspect shot him at point-blank range.”

  • TIMELINE OF EVENTS

    Earlier the suspect had been stopped and searched by two special constables close to a community centre in a crime hotspot.

    He was arrested on suspicion of dealing cannabis and possessing ammunition and taken to the custody centre in Windmill Lane.

    He remained handcuffed until a door was opened for him to be searched with a metal detector.

    A source said: “He was cuffed behind his back and given a pat down.

    “It would appear the suspect has somehow managed to conceal the gun on his body.”

  • WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE SUSPECT?

    – He is a 23-year-old man, of Sri Lankan heritage

    – He was referred to the Government's Prevent anti-terror programme over fears of sympathies towards Islamic extremism

    – He is thought to have not been deemed necessary to be on MI5 or counterterrorism police watch lists

    – He is in a critical state in hospital

    Read more here

  • HE WAS MOVED TO CUSTODY WORK TO BE SAFER, FRIEND SAYS

    The police had moved into custody work because he thought it was safer as he approached retirement, a friend said.

    Neil Donohue told BBC Breakfast: “He thought it was his safest option just to see him through to his retirement and no-one expected this to happen – certainly not within the police cells.”

  • 'GENUINELY NICE GUY'

    One of Sgt Ratana's friends said: “He was the nicest, most generous man you could meet.

    “Anyone that came in he'd always have time for them, he'd chat to them, he'd always have a big smile on his face and he was just a really genuinely nice guy.”

  • HOW THE CONCEALED GUN WAS FIRED

  • DEVASTATED FAMILY

    Matt Ratana's relatives in New Zealand have told how they were “devastated” to hear he died in south London on Friday morning.

    The 54-year-old veteran officer's cousin, Adrian Rurawhe, said: “He was really proud to be a police officer, he was also really proud to be Māori from New Zealand.”

    He added: “Matt really loved his job. He knew what he had signed up and the risks involved. He was never afraid but he was not reckless either.

    “He would have followed every correct procedure in the way he carried out his job.”

    You can ready the full story here

  • CALLS FOR BETTER PROTECTION FOR POLICE OFFICERS

    A former senior Met Police official has called for better protection for officers following the fatal shooting of Sgt Matt Ratana.

    Andy Trotter, former deputy assistant commissioner of the Met and also a former chief constable of British Transport Police, said increasing sentence lengths was not enough to prevent crime against emergency workers.

    He told Times Radio: “The challenges the police face, the violence they face, is much wider than this and it won't be solved by pushing up a sentence by 10 years. It's got to be much more around the numbers of police officers … the protective equipment they've got and not just the police.

    “Fire, ambulance they're all facing lots of attacks. We see attacks on shop workers, we see attacks on hospital staff. We are increasingly becoming a very difficult society to police.

    “We need to look right across the board on this and just saying we're going to put the sentences up will not solve that. It's got to be about prevention and detection, and much more than just that.”

  • 'TALENTED POLICE OFFICER'

    Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, who with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, led police officers across the capital in a minute's silence on Friday, described Sgt Ratana as a “talented police officer”.

    He was “big in stature, big in heart, friendly, capable, a lovely man and highly respected by his colleagues”, and leaves behind a partner and adult son, Dame Cressida said.

    Pictured: Matt with his partner

  • INVESTIGATION ONGOING

    Investigations are continuing into the death of Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu Ratana who was shot dead by a handcuffed suspect at a south London custody suite.

    A murder probe has been launched and investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog attended the scene.

    The IOPC have obtained CCTV from the custody centre as well as body-worn video footage from the officers present.

  • EXTREMIST LINKS?

    The suspect is thought to have been referred to the Government's Prevent anti-terror programme.

    The Times reports he had extreme views and sympathised with Islamic extremists.

  • 'SAD DAY FOR POLICE IN UK & NZ'

    England Rugby has paid tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, who was shot dead by a handcuffed suspect at a South London police station early Friday.

    It tweeted: “Our thoughts and those of the entire rugby family are with the family and friends of Sergeant Matt Ratana.”

    In Croydon, where floral tributes were left throughout the day, a friend who played rugby with the expat Kiwi officer described him as “an inspiration” who was looking forward to retirement.

    The 27-year-old, who gave his name as Paul, said: “The man was a machine. He went from training with us last night to come to his shift work here in Croydon. He would do that week in and week out.”

    New Zealand Police Minister Stuart Nash thanked Sgt Ratana for his service in both NZ and in the UK.

    He tweeted: “A sad day for the ⁦@nzpolice⁩ too, & former colleagues still serving. Condolences to whanau [family].”

  • PIERS MORGAN PAYS TRIBUTE

    Piers Morgan has joined those paying tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana, thanking him for his three decades of dedicated service to the public as a police officer.

    He tweeted about the Croydon fatality: “An absolute tragedy. Thank you for your service Matt.”

  • SERIOUS ASSAULTS AGAINST MET POLICE OFFICERS UP 95% AS FORCE MOURNS SERGEANT

    Assaults against Metropolitan Police officers are becoming increasingly violent, as well as more frequent, an investigation has found.

    The finding comes as a long-serving sergeant, Matt Ratana, was shot dead at a south London custody suite during the early hours of Friday morning.

    The expat New Zealander, 54, died in hospital after the 23-year-old gunman opened fire in the Croydon custody centre.

    The number of Met Police officers suffering “serious” injuries after being assaulted increased by 95% over the first three months of lockdown, compared with the same period in 2019, the PA news agency found.

    The Crown Prosecution Service describes the classification as including those which require medical treatment, including bone damage, extensive and severe bruising, cuts requiring suturing and those that result in loss of consciousness.

  • MONTHS FROM RETIREMENT

    Sergeant Matiu Ratana, known as Matt, was eligible for retirement in just two months' time.

    Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Matt spent very nearly 30 years as a uniformed police officer serving the public of London.

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

    She also said that Sgt Ratana “leaves a partner and he leaves an adult son from a previous relationship. Our thoughts are with them.”

  • 'PROUD MAORI'

    John Davies, a former colleague of Sgt Matiu Ratana, told the PA news agency the slain officer was a “truly remarkable, strong and unique individual”.

    The 58-year-old worked with Sgt Ratana for the Metropolitan Police from 2002 to 2004.

    Mr Davies, who has since retired, told PA: “Matt and myself were both police officers on Hillingdon Borough, west London, and worked closely together for those years.

    “I'd just like to say that he was a truly remarkable, strong and unique individual. He would have left an impression on all those he came into contact with.

    “He was a great guy and will be sorely missed.”

    Mr Davies described Sgt Ratana as a “proud Maori”.

  • TRIBUTE FROM NZ PM JACINDA ARDERN

    New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was “incredibly sad to hear news that a Metropolitan Police officer killed in the UK was Matiu Ratana, a former New Zealand Police officer.”

    She added on Facebook: “Sergeant Ratana worked in Auckland City and Counties Manukau until 2008, before returning to the UK.

    “To all Matiu’s whanau [family] across the world, we share your sorrow and have all our condolences.”

  • RUGBY CLUB 'UTTERLY DEVASTATED'

    East Grinstead Rugby Football Club said it was “utterly devastated to hear the tragic news that the Police Sergeant who lost his life in Croydon was our head coach, Matt Ratana.

    “Matt was an inspiring and much-loved figure at the club and there are truly no words to describe how we are feeling.”

    “We would like to take some time as a club and community to begin to comprehend what has happened,” said the club's chairman Bob Marsh and president Andy Poole.

    They added: “Our deepest and sincerest condolences go to Matt’s loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and to our community rugby family at this most terrible time.”

  • 'DEVOTED FAMILY MAN'

    Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, was a devoted family man, according to Lisa Verrilli, a Croydon-based cafe worker.

    She saw the hero cop several times a week when he would visit for lunch.

    The 39-year-old said: “He was only in here two days ago – it’s absolutely heart-breaking. My heart goes out to his family. 

    “He was a true gent. He was a very proud dad and a devoted family man.

    “He’d been in the force for a long time. Despite a demanding job he was always in a good mood. He was happy and cheerful.

    “His family meant everything to him and he was really keen on rugby. He would always be talking about it.”

  • SUSPECT STILL IN CRITICAL CONDITION

    The 23-year-old suspect who fatally shot Sergeant Matt Ratana is believed to have been known to counter-terror cops.

    He is fighting for his life in hospital after shooting himself in the head inside Croydon Custody Centre.

    It is believed that special constables failed to find the gun when the man was arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition in South London minutes before the attack.

    The suspect is then said to have pulled the revolver from his trousers and fired at Sgt Ratana as he was about to undergo a Covid temperature check inside the station.

    Desperate colleagues battled to save the custody sergeant's life before he was rushed to hospital, where he died shortly after arrival.

    Read more in our full story HERE.

  • KEEN RUGBY PLAYER AND COACH

    Slain Croydon cop Sergeant Matt Ratana “spent very nearly 30 years as a uniformed police officer, serving the public of London,” says Met Chief Dame Cressida Dick.

    She said that he was originally from Hawke's Bay, in New Zealand, and was believed to have attended Palmerston North Boys High School “where he developed a huge passion and great skill at rugby.

    “After Otago University [in Dunedin, NZ's South Island], he came to London in 1989, and began to play rugby at a very high level for London Irish.

    “Matt was a leader in his sport.

    “He was well known as a player, in several teams, including the Met Police, and latterly as a coach, more recently with East Grinstead.”

  • 'BIG, FRIENDLY GUY'

    Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, the police officer shot dead by a handcuffed suspect at a South London police station, was a “big friendly guy”, The Sun has been told.

    His partner of four years, Sue Busby, was said to be devastated tonight and was being comforted by friends.

    Her sister Amanda Tessier, a community nurse, told The Sun: “He was a great big friendly bear of a man, one of the loveliest men you could meet.

    “He was absolutely dedicated to being a police officer and had almost 30 years of service.

    “He knew the dangers of being a police officer in London and he had spoken about them but for him it was all part of the job.

    “It was something he was trained in and used to.”

    She added of the Kiwi expat: “He liked to keep fit and loved his rugby but he also liked a burger or two.”

  • 'TALENTED POLICE OFFICER' – MET CHIEF

    Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said that Sergeant Matiu Ratana was a talented police officer, “captain of his recruit training class”.

    She told reporters tonight that the New Zealander joined the Met in 1991.

    “He was posted to Charing Cross, and he worked as a constable, on the streets of the West End, and in Westminster, in a variety of roles.

    “Later he served on our territorial support group, across the whole of London, often dealing with the most violent and dangerous of criminals.

    “Later, he worked as a constable on the streets at Hillingdon, and in 2010 he was promoted to sergeant, where he worked in Hackney.”

    He was “big in stature, big in heart, friendly, capable, a lovely man and highly respected by his colleagues”, and leaves behind a partner and adult son, Dame Cressida Dick added.

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