Officer buys policeman killed in shooting a McDonald’s and keeps a chair empty for him
Written by on 28 September 2020
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 officer 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.
“Today his place in the suite was honoured with a NZ rugby shirt and the breakfast that I owed him from last week. He saw me on a bit of a downer,” he said.
“He grabbed me and a fellow sergeant, saying ‘Come on, bring it in. You need a custody cuddle’.
“It would have been a rugby tackle, only I was sat in my chair trying to ignore his irresistible humour. He was so good at lifting people’s spirits and lightening the atmosphere.”
The officer also revealed he had called Sgt Ratana last week and been told “a s*** day only lasts 24 hours”.
“It was the last chuckle we’d share,” he said.
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.
He is the eighth officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years.
His colleague said he was still “in disbelief” over the death.
“It’s hard to explain, but it’s made harder by the fact that he died doing the job that we all volunteer to do. It could have happened to any one of us,” he said.
“We’d all like to think we’ll be going home to our families at the end of a shift.”
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.
On Sgt Ratana’s death, Charles said: “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”.
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”.