A Met Police sergeant who was shot dead on Friday has been remembered by his rugby club, where he served as head coach.
Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, was shot at by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon Custody Centre during the early hours of Friday and later died from his injuries in hospital.
The suspect has since been named as Louis De Zoysa, 23, who had initially been arrested for an alleged Class B drugs offence and possession of ammunition. He is believed to have shot himself after and remains in hospital in a critical condition.
Today Sgt Ratana, who was originally from New Zealand and had been in the Met Police since 1991, was remembered by his friends and teammates at East Grinstead Rugby Club.
The club flag was flown alongside the New Zealand flag and an All Blacks rugby team flag to honour the sergeant’s roots, while two periods of silence were observed and tributes laid outside the clubhouse.
Assistant head coach Ryan Morlen, 31, said that the news of Sgt Ratana’s death would ‘take time to process’ as he described him as ‘an irreplaceable figure’.
He went on: ‘As a community he brought a lot of things together. I spoke to Matt every single day and there are thousands of people out there that really looked up to him.
‘As a community we’re unbelievably close and the minute we found out the news we pulled together and that’s the type of club East Grinstead is. Nothing is enough to show how much we loved that guy and how much of a role model he was to many, and he really was.’
PC Sarah D’Silva, 26, a player with the club’s women’s team and also an officer at Croydon police station, laid a signed Met Police jacket alongside the other tributes.
She said: ‘I can’t put into words how shocked I am and also the colleagues that are beside me in the blue-line family. It’s a completely tragic event.’
Matt Marriott, vice-chairman of East Grinstead Rugby Club, said their head coach ‘must have been an incredible policeman’. Describing his skill as a rugby coach, he went on: ‘His attention to detail and his strive for perfection, his work ethic, just blew all of us away.’
He added: ‘He wasn’t just a coach to the players. He was a role model, a mentor, and often actually a father figure. We’re going to mourn him as a family member. He’s left a big hole, to be honest.’
Sgt Ratana is the eighth police officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years and leaves behind a partner and a grown-up son.
Police say they have not yet been able to speak to De Zoysa as part of the murder investigation due to his condition, but another man has been arrested in Norwich on suspicion of supplying a firearm. He remains in police custody.
Forensic searches are also being carried out in an area of London Road, Pollards Hill, Norbury, where the suspect was initially arrested by officers.
Other searches are taking place at an address on Southbrook Road, also in Norbury, and at a second address on Park Road, Banstead in Surrey, where local officers from Surrey Police are helping.
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy said Sgt Ratana’s death had marked a ‘dark and sad day for the police family’. He noted that police are ‘painstakingly’ searching the four crime scenes in connection with the killing.
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