London officer shot dead while detaining suspect at station

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A police officer stands outside Croydon Custody Centre where a police officer was shot in the early hours of Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Croydon, England. A British police officer has been shot dead inside a London police station while detaining a suspect. Londons Metropolitan Police force said the officer was shot at the Croydon Custody Center in the south of the city early Friday. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

LONDON – A British police officer was shot dead inside a London police station early Friday by a suspect he was detaining, who then appears to have turned the gun on himself. Investigators said the suspect was handcuffed at the time.

London’s Metropolitan Police force said Sgt. Matiu Ratana, 54, was shot at the Croydon Custody Center in the south of the city just after 2 a.m. He was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The 23-year-old man being detained is in critical condition in a hospital with a gunshot wound. The case is not being treated as terrorism.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said “early indications are that the suspect shot himself."

Dick said Ratana, originally from New Zealand, had been in the police force for almost 30 years and leaves a partner and an adult son.

“We are all deeply shocked and saddened.,” she said. “The Met is a family. Policing is a family, within London and across the United Kingdom, and today we are all mourning a great loss.”

The force has launched a murder inquiry. Watchdog body the Independent Office for Police Conduct is also investigating.

Its regional director, Sal Naseem, said the suspect had been arrested for possession of drugs and possession of ammunition and taken to the holding facility in a police vehicle. He was handcuffed behind his back when shots were fired, “resulting in the fatal injuries to the officer and critical injuries to the man.”

“A non-police issue firearm, which appears to be a revolver, has been recovered from the scene,” Naseem said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior politicians expressed shock at Friday's death.

“We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe," Johnson said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “My heart goes out to the family of this brave officer, who has paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe.”

It is rare for police officers to be shot and killed in the U.K., which has strict firearms laws. The officer is the 17th from the London force to be killed by a firearm since 1945.

The last London police officer killed in the line of duty was Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death in March 2017 during a vehicle and knife attack outside Parliament.