Who was police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana?

SERGEANT Matt Ratana was shot dead by a handcuffed suspect while on duty in south London the morning of September 25.

Here's everything we know that led up to his death and how the 54-year-old veteran officer and father of one was killed.

⚠️ Follow the latest updates on the Croydon shooting here

Who was Sergeant Matt Ratana?

The 54-year-old veteran officer and father of one worked at the Croydon Custody Centre, South London.

Originally from Palmerston North in New Zealand, he travelled to the UK to start a new life in 1989.

He is also part Māori and his grandmother, Iriaka, became the first Maori woman to be elected as a member of Parliament in 1949 when she took over the seat from her husband.

In his high school years, he was a prefect and tennis champion, as well as a fanatical rugby player.

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 but for him it was all part of the job.

“He was such a lovely guy. He was a big friendly guy. He liked to keep fit and loved his rugby but he also liked a burger or two."

He has one grown-up son aged 26 and a partner, Sue Bushby, he had been with for six years.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Sgt Ratana was known as a "big guy" with a "big heart".

Was Sergeant Matt Ratana a professional rugby player?

Sgt Ratana played rugby for London Irish.

He was also a rugby coach who had told colleagues he dreamed of travelling Europe on his motorbike then coaching at his rugby club in Sussex.

What happened to Sergeant Matt Ratana?

Sgt Ratana tragically died after being shot in the chest as he was booking a suspect in over alleged possession of ammunition and dealing cannabis.

The suspect, 23, pulled the revolver from his trousers while cuffed behind his back and fired at Sgt Ratana before two other cops jumped on him.

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

The suspect was arrested outside Anderson Heights, Norbury, as he walked towards Streatham at about 1.44am on Friday, September 25.

He was taken to the custody centre in Windmill Lane where he remained handcuffed until a door was opened for him to be searched with a metal detector.

The 23-year-old, thought to be Sri Lankan with "extremist views", pulled the weapon out and fired.

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.”

"However, 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.”

The gunman blazed off more shots, five in all, in a fierce struggle in the corridor at 2.15am.

One hit himself in the neck, leaving him critical and under armed guard in hospital last night.

Medics performed open heart surgery on Sgt Ratana at the custody centre in Croydon, South London.

He was airlifted to hospital but later pronounced dead.

It is believed that special constables failed to find the gun when they had earlier detained him on suspicion of possessing drugs and ammunition.

Desperate colleagues battled to save the stricken officer's life before he was rushed to hospital, where he died soon after.

The 54-year-old dad was just months from retirement – he was going through Covid protocol while doing the "meet and greet" for all new detainees.

It was revealed he had moved to work in custody as it was safer, as he neared retirement.

Police have since launched a murder probe with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog attending the scene and examining CCTV from the custody centre as well as body-worn video footage from the officers there at the time.

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