Matt Ratana’s partner has paid tribute to her “gentle giant” after the police sergeant was shot dead at a custody centre in Croydon.
Sgt Ratana, 54, was killed after reportedly being blasted five times in the chest as he went to search a handcuffed suspect in the early hours of Friday.
His partner, Su Bushby, shared a tribute in which she spoke of her heartbreak at losing her “partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate”.
“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,” said Ms Bushby.
“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.
“He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart.”
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.”
Sgt Ratana’s suspected killer, widely reported to be 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa, remains in a critical condition in hospital after he was also hit by a bullet following the killing.
The New Zealand-born Metropolitan Police officer of almost 30 years has been described as someone who epitomised the role police play in protecting others and, as head coach at East Grinstead Rugby Club, was said to be an “irreplaceable figure”.
A string of community leaders and charity bosses in Croydon paid tribute to him in a video shared on social media on Monday.
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.”
So far, the investigation into the custody sergeant’s death has seen police searching an address on Southbrook Road in Norbury, south-west London, and another on Park Road, Banstead in Surrey.
A police guard was in place outside Courtlands Farm off Park Road on Sunday, following reports from neighbours of an explosion in the early hours of the previous morning.
Scotland Yard arrested a man on suspicion of supplying a firearm at around 2am on Sunday in Norwich, Norfolk.
In the lead-up to Friday’s killing, the shooting suspect had been arrested by patrolling officers for possession of ammunition and possession of class B drugs with intent to supply following a stop and search, then handcuffed behind his back before being taken to the station in a police vehicle.
According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), he was taken into the building and sat in a holding area in the custody suite, then opened fire while still in the handcuffs as officers prepared to search him with a metal detector.
No police firearms were discharged in the incident, during which the suspect was also injured, and the case is not being treated as terror-related.