A special memorial service for the Metropolitan police sergeant Matiu “Matt” Ratana, who was shot and killed on duty last year, will be held so police officers get the chance to say a final farewell to their colleague.
A memorial service is to be held on Monday 29 November, more than a year after Ratana was shot dead at a south London custody centre, in place of a usual full force funeral, which could not be held because of Covid-19 restrictions.
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 25 September 2020.
Louis De Zoysa, 24, has been charged with Ratana’s murder and
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 Metropolitan police commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said the memorial service “would allow us to come together in Matt’s memory” as the force was still grieving for Ratana and wanted to celebrate his life.
A minute’s silence was held on Saturday, the first anniversary of his death.
After his death, New Zealand-born Ratana, who was also a rugby coach, was described as a “gentle giant” by his partner, Su Bushby.
Dick 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.”
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.
He will be honoured at the National Police Memorial Day in Lincoln on Sunday alongside other officers who were killed or died while on duty.
A Met police spokesperson 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.
The vice-chairman of the rugby club for which Ratana coached paid tribute to him ahead of a memorial event at the club this weekend.
Matt Marriott, who is vice-chairman of East Grinstead Rugby Club in West Sussex, said he hoped the day would be “full of smiles rather than tears”.
Describing Ratana as “an exceptional rugby coach”, he told BBC Breakfast: “It was a year ago today that the president of the club and I gathered in my kitchen among floods of tears as we just heard the news. It’s been a tough year for us as a club.
“Today is the first game for our first team, they’re playing their first league game since he died, and we’re determined it’s going to be a celebration.
“Matt would be delighted about today. We’re determined to enjoy it to the full.”