A police officer in London was shot and killed in the early morning hours of Friday while attempting to detain a suspect at the Croydon Custody Centre in south London. According to the city’s Metropolitan Police Service, the slain officer was 54-year-old Sgt. Matt Ratana. This situation is not only extremely odd because it is the death of an officer in the line of duty, but also because it happened in a police station during questioning.
Fellow officers and paramedics made attempts to treat the officer at the scene, but sadly he later died from the injuries caused by the gunshot after he was transferred to the hospital.
“This is a truly shocking incident in which one of our colleagues has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances. My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters.
The officer who was senselessly killed earlier today has been named as Sergeant Matt Ratana.
"Matt was a leader in rugby and well known as a player on several teams, including the Met. A lovely man, highly respected by colleagues & the public.
"He will be remembered so fondly."
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) September 25, 2020
A 23-year-old man was reportedly detained at the scene, but police have released few other details about the suspect. The Metropolitan Police Service has launched a homicide investigation into the case. Police in the region rarely carry guns or get into altercations where firearms are an issue. For the most part, police in London are usually on the lookout for knives, not guns. According to the UK Police Roll of Honour Trust website, this is the first time an officer lost their life in the line of duty in the past year. The last time that an officer with the Metropolitan Police was killed was 2017, where an officer named Keith Palmer lost his life during a terror attack on the British capital.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, 73 police officers have been shot and killed by criminals in the UK, excluding all deaths in Northern Ireland. The majority of those deaths, which is more than 50, have occurred since 1945.
Ratana was originally from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, and moved to London in 1989. Two years later, in 1991, he joined the Metropolitan Police and became captain of his recruit training class.
Ratana was shot in the chest, but then the suspect turned the weapon on himself. He is now in the hospital with serious injuries. The interaction with the man began when he was stopped by police and taken to the custody suite in a police vehicle for a search. The IOPC said in a statement that it had established the man was arrested for possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply, and possession of ammunition. However, just before police prepared to search him with a medical detector, he fired off a few shots.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the police were currently “reviewing the safety of custody suites” and “there could be changes very soon to custody suites to make sure they are as safe as they can be”.
Ratana is the 17th officer from the Metropolitan Police force to have been killed by a firearm since the Second World War, according to the BBC.