The partner of a police officer who was shot dead in London has paid tribute to her “gentle giant” as the investigation into his death continues.
Su Bushby said there were no words to describe her feelings at the loss of Sgt Matt Ratana, who was killed while on duty in the early hours of Friday morning.
“I know Matt touched many, many people’s lives with his friendliness, patience, kindness, enthusiasm and caring ways,” she added.
“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.
“Matt was my partner, friend, confidant, support and soul mate. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Matt will always be in my head and in my heart.”
Sgt Ratana, who was originally from New Zealand, also has an adult son from a previous relationship.
MPs held a minute’s silence in the House of Commons in his memory on Monday following commemorations over the weekend for National Police Memorial Day.
Sgt Ratana, 54, was an experienced custody sergeant and was working at a custody suite in Croydon on Thursday night.
He was allegedly shot by 23-year-old Louis De Zoysa, who had been arrested for possession of ammunition and drugs, in a holding area.
The suspect had been handcuffed to the rear and was about to be searched using a metal detector at the time.
He remains in a critical condition in hospital after turning the gun on himself, while Sgt Ratana died in hospital.
A string of community leaders from Croydon paid tribute to him in a video shared on social media on Monday.
Superintendent Andy Brittain Sgt Ratana, who was known for his love of rugby and played for London Irish amateurs, “touched the lives of so many”.
Multiple tributes have been paid since his death, including from the country's prime minister Jacinda Adern.
Dame Cressida Dick said he was an “extraordinary person” who was “very good at his job”.
The Metropolitan Police commissioner 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”.
Sgt Ratana moved to Britain in 1989 and joined the force two years later, working across the capital in various roles before moving to Croydon in 2015.
“As a colleague, he was big in stature and big-hearted, a friendly, capable police officer,” Dame Cressida said.
“A lovely man, highly respected by officers and staff, and by the public, including suspects he arrested or dealt with in custody.
“He was very well known locally and will be remembered so fondly in Croydon, as well as in the Met and the rugby world.”
The investigation into his death has seen police searching an address on Southbrook Road in Norbury, southwest London, and another on Park Road, Banstead in Surrey.
A cordon 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.
Officers 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 suspected gunman 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.
He was 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.
Priti Patel paid tribute to Sgt Ratana and restated the government’s commitment to a police covenant enshrining support for officers and their families in law.
Speaking in the Commons, the home secretary said: “Last Friday we saw the senseless murder of police sergeant Matiu Ratana while on duty in Croydon.
“His tragic death in the line of duty is a reminder to us all of the risks our brave officers take each and every day to keep us all safe.
“I know the House will join me in paying tribute to his courage and service and also in sending our sincere and heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”