Matt Ratana shooting: Police sergeant died from gunshot wound to the chest, inquest hears

1 October 2020, 15:52 | Updated: 1 October 2020, 18:16

Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matt Ratana died from a gunshot wound to the chest, an inquest into his death has heard.

The veteran officer, 54, passed away in hospital in the early hours of Friday 25 September after being shot by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon Custody Centre in south London as he prepared to search him.

The 23-year-old, who was not named during the 10-minute inquest opening at Croydon Coroner's Court, was also injured and remains in a critical condition in hospital.

A second man was arrested in Norwich on Sunday on suspicion of supplying a firearm and has been bailed until later this month.

Met Detective Superintendent Nick Blackburn said a weapon was discharged "several times" during the incident at the custody centre. A revolver was later recovered from the scene.

He told the inquest that the suspect, who Sky News has confirmed is Louis De Zoysa, was first detained by police in Pollards Hill, south London, at 1.30am.

He was then handcuffed and taken into custody on suspicion of possession of ammunition and a Class B drug.

Mr Blackburn said: "Upon arrival, he was taken to a holding room where he remained in handcuffs.

"The custody sergeant, Matt Ratana, entered the holding room. The suspect discharged the weapon several times, during which the sergeant and the suspect were injured."

The inquest heard Sgt Ratana was taken to St George's Hospital in Tooting, but he was pronounced dead at 4.20am.

Det Supt Blackburn said the preliminary cause of death given following the post-mortem examination was a gunshot wound to the chest.

He said the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, is investigating.

He told the inquest: "This matter has deeply shocked and saddened all of us at the Met. But rest assured, the Met will conduct a thorough investigation."

The inquest, which Sgt Ratana's son joined remotely from Australia, was adjourned for Scotland Yard to carry out their murder inquiry. The incident is not being treated as terrorism.

Sgt Ratana, a keen rugby player, was originally from the Hawke's Bay area of New Zealand. Earlier on Thursday, the country's high commissioner to the UK made an emotional visit to the scene where Sgt Ratana was shot.

Bede Corry joined Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to pay his respects at a makeshift shrine in the grounds of the custody centre.

He laid a wreath and paused briefly in front of the memorial, adorned with scores of floral bouquets, and surrounded by New Zealand flags and sports jerseys.

In a statement, he said: "New Zealanders were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Sergeant Matiu Ratana.

"We came today, to the place where he died, to share our grief and convey our condolences to the Metropolitan Police Service and through them, to Matiu's family.

"As someone who was a police officer in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, he uniquely served both countries. We know he will be deeply missed.

"The High Commission will continue to support the Metropolitan Police Service as they assist Matiu's family."

Sgt Ratana's Met colleagues, local and international sportsmen, and Prince Charles were among those paying their respects following his death.

Su Bushby, his partner of five years, described him as her "gentle giant", while the House of Commons paid tribute by falling silent on Monday.