Police officers are to get the chance to say a final farewell to a colleague more than a year after he was shot dead at a south London custody centre.
A special memorial service for Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu “Matt” Ratana, which is to take the place of the usual full force funeral which could not be held because of Covid-19 restrictions, is to be held on Monday November 29.
The 54-year-old sergeant was shot in the chest as he prepared to search a handcuffed suspect at a police station in Croydon on September 25 2020.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the memorial service “would allow us to come together in Matt’s memory” as the force is still grieving for Sgt Ratana and wants to celebrate his life.
A minute’s silence will be held on Saturday, the one-year anniversary of his death, at 11am.
It will enable Metropolitan Police officers and staff to take a moment to remember him.
After his death New Zealand-born Sgt Ratana, who was also a rugby coach, was described as a “gentle giant” by his partner Su Bushby.
Dame Cressida said: “Matt has very much been in our thoughts over the last year, both as we grieve for him, but also as we celebrate his life.
“His legacy lives on with his family and friends from the Met, rugby, and beyond.
“When Matt was killed, Covid-19 meant the Met weren’t able to mark his death with a force funeral in the way that we would have wished to.
“I said at the time that when restrictions were no longer in place, we would hold a full memorial service that would allow us to come together in Matt’s memory.
Sgt Ratana, a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club, had worked in the Met Police for nearly 30 years and served in a number of London boroughs and teams before transferring in 2015 to Croydon, where he was a custody sergeant.
Sgt Ratana will be honoured at the National Police Memorial Day in Lincoln on Sunday alongside other officers who were killed or died while on duty.
Dame Cressida added: “For many people the anniversary of Matt’s murder and National Police Memorial Day will be a time of particular sadness and reflection but we will never forget all our fallen colleagues and will remember and honour them forever.”
She will be joined by senior chaplain Jonathan Osbourne at Sunday’s Memorial Day event.
A Met Police spokesman said a full force funeral is a formal service attended by VIPs, senior officers and colleagues, for any police officer or member of staff who has died in the course of their duties.
One was held for Pc Keith Palmer, who was murdered in the Westminster terror attack in 2017, but a similar funeral for Sgt Ratana was not possible due to the Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time.
Louis De Zoysa, 24, has been charged with Sgt Ratana’s murder.
He was said to be of no fixed address when he appeared at a brief hearing at the Old Bailey earlier this month.
He is accused of discharging four bullets in a holding cell at Croydon Custody Centre during the alleged incident last year, in which he was also injured.
The court heard the first shot hit Sgt Ratana in the chest, causing a fatal wound, while he was also hit in the leg.
De Zoysa received a life-threatening bullet injury during the incident and had been recovering in hospital under police guard.