Partner of Sergeant Matt Ratana pays tribute to 'gentle giant'

28 September 2020, 16:35 | Updated: 28 September 2020, 16:49

Sergeant Matt Ratana was killed by a suspect in police custody
Sergeant Matt Ratana was killed by a suspect in police custody. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The partner of police officer Matt Ratana, who was killed in Croydon, has paid tribute to her "gentle giant" and said he will "never be forgotten".

Sergeant Matt Ratana, 54, died after being shot by a suspect being held in the custody suite.

On Monday, his partner of six years Su Bushby has paid tribute him, calling the sergeant her "soulmate".

“There aren’t really any words for how I am feeling right now about the loss of Matt; about losing someone I loved and was so close to in such a tragic manner," she said.

“I know Matt touched many, many people’s lives with his friendliness, patience, kindness, enthusiasm and caring ways.

“I had the pleasure of sharing five years of my life with this lovely man - my gentle giant, with his infectious smile and big heart. I think of him with tenderness and love.

“Matt was my partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate.

“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart."

Croydon North MP Steve Reed says police officer's death 'hurts immensely'

Also on Monday, Sergeant Ratana's colleagues paid a touching tribute to him by buying a McDonald's breakfast and saving a chair for what should have been a shift together.

Sergeant Richard Lovelock said that although the gesture was "daft", it was inspired by a "touching moment" that had helped the team come to terms with Sgt Ratana's death.

Sgt Lovelock posted a picture of the breakfast, which was accompanied by an All Blacks Rugby shirt, in honour of Sgt Ratana's background and enthusiasm for the sport.

"Matt was one of those familiar faces, he certainly wasn't frightened of doing the overtime and he wasn't frightened to travel," Sgt Lovelock said.

Read more: 'Respect for emergency workers gone' says Lissie Harper in wake of Sgt Ratana shooting

"He should have been on shift with me today and yesterday as well and so it was quite sad really, turning up to work and knowing that he should have been there and he wasn't.

"My colleague Chris got him the breakfast because Matt, being the type of guy he was, bought him one when he was last in and said 'don't worry, sort me out next time'.

"They're quits now.

"I know it sounds daft but it's just those touching little moments that have helped us all through yesterday and today."

Tributes have been paid to Matt Ratana
Tributes have been paid to Matt Ratana. Picture: PA

It comes after Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle invited members to pay their respects in a minute's silence in the House of Commons on Monday.

He said: “I am sure all honourable members will wish to join me in paying their respects to Police Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was killed in the course of duty on Friday, and sending our condolences to his family.

“Yesterday was National Police Memorial Day, and I ask all honourable members to stand and observe a minute’s silence to mark that occasion and to remember Matt Ratana.”

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said he was an "extraordinary person" who was "very good at his job".

She said his "terrible" death might bring home to people the challenges of police work, helping them to "see us police as who we are - human beings, going to work to help people, to support people and to protect people".

She added: "Matt was the epitome of that."

Friends and teammates gathered in silence in East Grinstead to pay their respects as the club flag was flown alongside the New Zealand flag and an All Blacks rugby team flag to honour Sgt Ratana's love of the sport and his roots.

Police have previously said they are working with a "determination to find justice for our colleague and his family".

A man is currently being held and questioned on suspicion of supplying a firearm at a south London police station in connection with Sgt Ratana's death.

The suspect for the shooting - widely reported to be 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa - has not yet been spoken to by investigators due to his condition.