Matt Ratana: Four crime scenes searched, gun recovered in the inquiry into London shooting of Kiwi officer

A longtime friend of the New Zealand-raised police officer fatally shot in London has remembered the sergeant as a "wonderful man" and "a great mate" with a caring nature.

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu (Matt) Ratana, 54, was killed by a handcuffed suspect at the Croydon Custody Centre on Friday. Ratana, who had been attempting to test the young man for COVID-19, was shot five times. It's believed the suspect then turned the gun on himself.

The 23-year-old, who had been arrested for drug offences and possession of ammunition, according to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition.

The friend of Sgt Ratana, who does not wish to be identified, said the two met in 1981 and formed a lifelong bond while working as prefects at Palmerston North Boys' High School.

"Matt was a happy, out-there, lovely guy - [he was] kind, just a lovely bloke. A talented sportsman - I remember when he got [the prefect badge], he was just so proud," the friend recounted to Newshub.

"He always kept in touch, he was a great mate - he was always interested in you and what you were doing... he cared about people."

The Palmerston North Boys' High School old boy said the school was "special" as former students had maintained a "really tight network".

When he and Ratana became prefects in 1985, they were "totally and utterly bonded for life", he said. The two maintained a close friendship and last spoke on the phone in May.

Ratana, originally from the Hawke's Bay region, had studied town planning at Massey University's Palmerston North campus. He relocated to London in 1991 to join the Metropolitan Police.

As the head coach for Grinstead Rugby FC, Ratana had been close to retiring from the Met and was "really concentrating" on a future in rugby coaching.

"His whole life was revolving around coaching," the friend said.

"When we heard the news, it was just tragic."

Matt Ratana, 54, was shot five times by a handcuffed suspect at the Croydon Custody Centre in London on Friday.
Matt Ratana, 54, was shot five times by a handcuffed suspect at the Croydon Custody Centre in London on Friday. Photo credit: Facebook

Four crime scenes under investigation, gun recovered

Four crime scenes have been established and searched by detectives investigating the shooting of Sgt Ratana, the Met confirmed in an update on Saturday. 

The investigation into the killing was launched by homicide detectives from the Specialist Crime Command on September 25, with forensic specialists, search teams, and local officers participating in the enquiry.

Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Stuart Cundy, who is responsible for the investigation, says a gun has been recovered along with CCTV footage.

Detailed searches are taking place at the four locations across both London and Surrey, including the Croydon Custody Centre where the shooting occurred; an area of London Road in Pollards Hill where the suspect was initially arrested; an address on Southbrook Road in Norbury; and a second address on Park Road in Banstead, Surrey.

Rigorous forensic searches at the locations are expected to take days to complete.

"Almost forty-eight hours into the investigation, we are pursuing various lines of inquiry and recovering evidence from the four crime scenes," Cundy said in a statement.

"We have recovered a gun from custody where Matt was shot, which is being forensically examined."

Due to the condition of the suspect, officers are unable to speak to him. 

"Our murder investigation will seek to establish why Matt was shot - I would like to reiterate that this a murder investigation and not a counter terrorism investigation."

No other arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing, the Met said.

The death has sparked several questions as to how the suspect managed to discharge the firearm while handcuffed in a police custody centre.

"How on Earth does someone manage to bring a firearm inside a police custody centre and discharge it while handcuffed - how does that happen?" Newshub Europe correspondent Lloyd Burr said in an earlier report.

Ratana had served the Metropolitan Police for almost 30 years after joining the force in 1991.

Police Cmmr Dame Cressida Dick described the Kiwi as a "much-loved" officer with a "big heart" following the news of his death on Friday.