Heartbroken family of Sgt Matt Ratana shot dead by handcuffed suspect pay tribute to fearless dad who 'loved his job'
The heartbroken family of a sergeant shot dead by a handcuffed suspect while on duty yesterday morning have paid tribute to the fearless dad.
Matt Ratana's relatives in New Zealand have told how they were "devastated" to hear he died in south London on Friday morning.
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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."
Mr Rurawhe, a Labour MP, described Sgt Ratana, who worked at the Croydon Custody Centre, as "fearless".
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.”
"He wasn't a big risk taker, but he wasn't afraid to challenge the norm.
"He had a leadership role within the whānau and him and I often spoke about our responsibilities within our whānau. He was really proud to be from Ratana."
"He was a really good sportsman, played tennis rugby, did everything."
Matt, he said, had one full brother, James, who worked in the construction industry and eight other half siblings.
“My sister spoke to James and he is just devastated, as you can imagine,” said Mr Rurawhe.
Sgt Ratana tragically died after being shot in the chest as the suspect was booked in over alleged possession of ammunition.
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.
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.
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.
Officers killed in the line of duty since 2000:
Detective Constable Stephen Oake died during a police raid on a flat in Crumpsall, Manchester, in January 2003.
Pc Ian Broadhurst, 34, of West Yorkshire Police, was murdered by David Bieber, 38, in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003.
Detective Constable Michael Swindells, 44, died after he was knifed in the stomach as he and colleagues conducted a search in Birmingham in May 2004.
Pc Sharon Beshenivsky was shot dead when she and a colleague tried to stop armed robbers in Bradford in November 2005.
Pc Ricky Gray was shot in the head by a gunman who then turned the weapon on himself in Shrewsbury in 2007.
Pc Gary Toms, 37, was critically injured confronting suspects in Leyton, east London, on April 11 2009. He died six days later when his life support machine was switched off, 25 years to the day after Pc Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London while controlling a crowd of demonstrators.
Pc Fiona Bone, 32, and Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, were murdered by Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in September 2012.
Pc Keith Palmer, who was fatally stabbed in March 2017 by Khalid Masood during the Westminster Bridge terror attack.
Pc Andrew Harper died when he was caught in a tow rope and dragged along country lanes after trying to stop quad bike thieves in Berkshire in August 2019.
His grandmother Iriaka was also a groundbreaker, becoming the first Maori woman to be elected as an member of Parliament in 1949 when she took over the seat from her husband and serving for 20 years.
Sergeant Ratana had been brought up in nearby Palmerston North and was a prefect and tennis champion at his high school there, as well as a fanatical rugby player.
Matt’s late mother Mary had been from Scotland, and her roots there were part of the reason he travelled to the UK to start a new life in 1989.
His partner of four years Sue Bushby was said to be devastated 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 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."
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.”
"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.”
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