Sussex police officer died from gunshot wound to the chest, inquest hears

A police officer from Sussex killed on duty in Croydon last week died from a gunshot wound to the chest, an inquest has heard.

Sergeant Matt Ratana, from Sussex, died in the early hours of Friday morning (September 25) after being shot by a handcuffed suspect detained in Croydon Custody Centre.

The 23-year-old suspect is in a critical condition in hospital after turning the gun on himself.

At the opening of an inquest into Sgt Ratana’s death yesterday (October 1), the senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Nick Blackburn outlined the events of Friday night.

Sgt Matiu Ratana

Det Supt Blackburn said a 23-year-old male was stopped and searched at around 1.30am in Pollards Hill, London, by police on a routine patrol.

During the search, officers found items suspected of being controlled drugs and firearm ammunition, he said.

The suspect was arrested for being unlawfully in possession of ammunition and for possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply and was transported to the Windmill Road custody centre with his hands cuffed behind his back.

He was taken to a holding room where he remained in handcuffs while police officers prepared to search him, Det Supt Blackburn told the inquest.

Sgt Ratana, 54, then entered the room as the custody sergeant, at which point the suspect pulled out a revolver and fired it several times.

The inquest heard Sgt Ratana was shot in the chest and, after being treated at the scene and rushed to hospital, he passed away at 4.10am.

The suspect was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound and remains in a critical condition.

No police firearms were discharged during the incident, Det Supt Blackburn said, and a revolver handgun was recovered from the scene.

Preliminary findings from a forensic pathologist listed the cause of Sgt Ratana’s death as a gunshot wound to the chest.

Dept Supt Blackburn said: “We are conducting a criminal investigation into the murder of Police Sergeant Matt Ratana, which is being conducted by detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, supported by colleagues from across the Met.

“The suspect remains in hospital in a critical condition. Since the suspect was seriously injured while in police custody the Independent Office for Police Conduct have commenced an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

“The Met’s murder investigation is pursuing a number of lines of enquiry and is seeking to establish what happened and why it happened. This includes ongoing searches of a number of crime scenes, enquiries relating to the suspect, and reviewing police officers’ body worn video and CCTV at the custody centre.

“The murder of Police Sergeant Matt Ratana has deeply shocked and saddened all of us in the Metropolitan Police as it has the whole nation. Be assured, the Metropolitan Police will conduct a thorough and professional investigation into his murder.”

Sergeant Ratana’s family and colleagues have paid tribute to the ‘gentle giant’, who was particularly well known in Sussex for his rugby coaching.

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