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Croydon police shooting: Crime scenes searched over Sgt Matt Ratana death

Matt Ratana moved to the UK in 1989 and joined the Met Police two years later
Police investigating the fatal shooting of a police officer in south London say four crime scenes are being searched.

Matt Ratana moved to the UK in 1989 and joined the Met Police two years later
Matt Ratana moved to the UK in 1989 and joined the Met Police two years later

Sgt Matiu Ratana, from New Zealand, died in hospital on Friday after being shot in Croydon as a handcuffed suspect was being taken into custody.

Residents near one of the search areas reported hearing a loud explosion as the 23-year-old suspect, who is thought to have shot himself, remains in hospital.

The Met commissioner said 54-year-old Sgt Ratana would be “sorely missed.”

Speaking at the National Police Memorial in central London, Dame Cressida Dick said she “hadn’t been surprised at all” by the number of tributes paid to him.

“Matt was an extraordinary person… He had a wonderful personality and he was very good at his job,” she said, adding that he was also a “proud kiwi.”

The commissioner also laid a wreath at the National Police Memorial in central London alongside Home Secretary Priti Patel and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Sgt Ratana will be remembered at the National Police Memorial Day Service, alongside six other officers who have died on duty in the past 12 months.

Reverend Cannon David Wilbraham, who is leading the service – taking place online this year – said the event will show their “sacrifice is not forgotten” and allow the public “to recognise the dedication to duty and the courage displayed.”

Silences have also been held at a number of rugby clubs, including in East Grinstead where the 54-year-old was head coach.

The West Sussex club’s Vice Chairman Matt Marriott said they had to arrange two separate minute’s silences because the “interest has been pretty enormous,” with “people coming from all over the country.”

He said Sgt Ratana “wasn’t just our coach… he was a role model, a mentor and often a father figure.”

“We’re going to mourn him as a family member,” he added.

PC Sarah D’Silva, who plays for the club’s women’s team as well as working at Croydon Police Station, said it felt “extremely poignant” to join the minute’s silence.

She wore her police uniform to pay her respects to the 54-year-old, who she described as “an absolutely fantastic character, full of life, with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.”

Sgt Ratana was shot in the chest at Croydon Custody Centre at about 02:15 BST on Friday.

On Saturday evening, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said police were focusing on four crime scenes.

Residents near one of the search areas in Banstead, Surrey, reported hearing a loud explosion on Saturday morning.

People living near the address in Park Road were woken by noises at about 05:40 BST.

The BBC’s Daniel De Simone said the Banstead address is down a long driveway and its land contains a series of concrete bunkers.

Multiple police officers, including armed officers, were visible in the area and people had been informed that a controlled explosion had taken place, the BBC was told.

A marked police car has been guarding the entrance to the property.

Police confirmed the other scenes undergoing searches were Croydon Custody Centre, where the shooting occurred, an area of London Road in Pollards Hill, where the suspect was initially arrested, and an address in Southbrook Road, Norbury.

Gun recovered
Describing how the investigation was progressing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Cundy said: “We have recovered the gun from the custody suite where Matt was shot.

“We also have CCTV from that custody suite which shows the events, and we have body-worn video of our police officers who were involved in the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the suspect.”

The murder investigation is expected to focus on the motive for the killing.

The suspect remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The suspect had initially been arrested for an alleged drugs offence and possession of ammunition.

The shots were fired as officers prepared to search for the suspect – who was still handcuffed – with a metal detector, according to watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). He remains in a critical condition in hospital.

“Several crime scenes” were established on Friday and a cordon also remains in place around the Anderson Heights building in Norbury, south-west London, the Met has said.

A concierge in the building told the BBC the 23-year-old suspects did not live in the block but were arrested outside it.

The Met previously said the shooting was not terror-related.

It is believed the suspect was known to counter-terrorism police and his background may feature prominently in police inquiries, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said.

The suspect had been referred to the anti-extremism government’s Prevent programme, aimed to stop people joining extremist groups and carrying out terrorist activities.

As part of the IOPC investigation it is examining CCTV and police bodycam footage to establish how the shootings took place.

The watchdog said the suspect was in handcuffs, with his hands behind his back.

A key part of that IOPC investigation will be to find out how thoroughly the suspect was searched before he was taken into custody.

Sgt Ratana came to the UK in his early 20s in 1989 and joined the Met Police two years later.

He was originally from the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand and was educated at Palmerston North Boy’s High School, north of the capital, Wellington.

Sgt Ratana, who had a partner and an adult son from a previous relationship, would have been eligible for retirement in two months.

Boris Johnson was among those who paid tribute to the officer, tweeting: “My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night.

“We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”

New Zealand PM Ms Ardern previously released a statement saying: “To all Matiu’s whanau (Maori for extended family) across the world, we share your sorrow and have all our condolences.”

New Zealand Police – where Sgt Ratana worked between 2003 and 2008 before returning to the UK – also sent their condolences, adding: “Policing is family.”

When he was not working, Sgt Ratana was heavily involved in rugby coaching.

England Rugby paid tribute to the 54-year-old, saying he “gave so much for our sport.”

Crystal Palace Football Club held a minute’s silence before their match against Everton on Saturday to “pay our respects to local police officer Sgt Matt Ratana.”

A minute’s silence was also held before the London derby between Millwall and Brentford.

Neil Donohue, a friend of Sgt Ratana who runs the gym he used to attend, described him as “inspirational” and “the nicest, most generous man you could meet.”

He told the BBC that the 54-year-old had gone into “the custody side [of policing] purely because he had had enough out on the streets and he thought it was his safest option, just to see him through to his retirement.

“It’s just absolutely tragic,” he said.

A number of police officers have turned their social media profile pictures black with a blue stripe to pay their respects.

John Davies, a retired officer who worked with Sgt Ratana when he was based in Hillingdon, west London, said he was “a truly remarkable, strong and unique individual” who “left an impression on all those he came into contact with.” BBC News