27 Sep Matt Ratana shooting: Police officer’s colleague pays touching tribute to killed sergeant | UK News
A colleague of Sergeant Matt Ratana, the police officer shot dead inside a custody centre in south London, has paid a touching tribute.
The Metropolitan Police employee, who did not want to be named, told Sky News he and other staff at the custody centre had breakfast together at work to honour Sgt Ratana – because they all had breakfast with him last week.
Sgt Ratana, 54, died in the early hours of Sunday after being shot at Croydon Custody Centre by a suspect who is currently in a critical condition in hospital after turning the gun on himself.
Sky News has confirmed that the suspect is 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa.
“So many of us are devastated,” Sgt Ratana’s colleague told Sky News.
“It’s not just me whose heart he touched in the Met.”
The man posted photos on social media under the twitter name @ConstableXL – one with a fast food meal on a chair with an All Blacks rugby shirt, and another of McMuffins and drinks bought for the group meal.
Sgt Ratana was originally from Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island, but had served with London’s Met for much of his career.
ConstableXL said he was covering the fallen policeman’s shift on Sunday and pointed out that Sgt Ratana, a popular rugby coach, had kindly bought him breakfast last week after thinking he needed a “cuddle”.
He tweeted: “Covering #SgtMattRatana today. He’d have been day shift with us. I was gonna repay him for breakfast he got me last week… after he tackled me in the suite and said ‘Come on XL, bring it in, you need a custody cuddle!'”
Sgt Ratana is the eighth officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years.
Speaking on National Police Memorial Day, the Prince of Wales addressed the annual remembrance service, which honours those who have lost their lives on duty.
Leading the tributes to fallen officers, Charles made his comments in a video message as the ceremony was held virtually for the first time in its 17-year history due to coronavirus restrictions.
Speaking of Sgt Ratana’s death, Charles said: “The dreadful incident in Croydon on Friday is the latest heartbreaking evidence of the risks faced by our officers daily.
“I would like to send my deepest sympathy to the families of each of these officers who have given their lives.
“These are losses we can never replace, sacrifices we can never repay, but of which, as a society, we can only strive to be worthy.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also paid tribute to the fallen officers who “represent the very best of us”.
Earlier, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Home Secretary Priti Patel laid wreaths at the National Police Memorial in the capital as part of the commemorations.
The level of violence against police has increased in recent years, according to an organisation representing rank and file officers in England and Wales.
John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, told Sky News that his colleagues accepted that policing is dangerous but now some people “want to kick them when they are down and then kick them again”.
He said Sgt Ratana’s death was “heartbreaking and devastating news for the policing family and beyond”.
Speaking about violence against officers, Mr Apter told Sky News: “What we’ve seen over the past few years is the level of violence which has increased.
“In the ‘old days’, if somebody wanted to escape arrest they’d assault a police officer and off they’d run.
“But now we seem to have people who will assault a police officer and then kick them when they are down and then kick them again.”
Mr Apter acknowledged that the silent majority support the police and pointed to a survey during the coronavirus crisis, which said 90% of the public think the policing style is about right.
The Police Federation represents more than 120,000 officers, from constable to chief inspector.