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Kiwi police officer, Matt Ratana, shot dead in line of duty in UK

A murder investigation has been launched after a New Zealand-born police officer was shot dead in England.

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NZ-born Sergeant Matt Ratana was weeks from retirement when he was killed in the UK. Source: 1 NEWS

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, known as Matt, was killed by a man who was being detained in Croydon, South London.

It's understood the suspect was being searched and given a Covid-19 test, before allegedly producing a weapon and firing at Ratana in the chest before turning the gun on himself.

Ratana, 54, was treated at the scene but later died in hospital of gunshot wounds.

His death has sent shockwaves through the policing community.

"We are all deeply shocked and saddened. 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," Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.

"I have visited and spoken to our officer's partner together with other colleagues. We are giving her the best support we can. My heartfelt condolences go to her, their family," she added

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to social media to tweet his condolences.

Ratana was only a few weeks from retirement.

Originally from Hawkes Bay, he was educated at Palmerston North Boys' High School and had a passion for rugby.

At Otago University he played club rugby for Ravensbourne RFC in the Dunedin premiership competition.

In 1989 he travelled to the UK where played for London Irish RFC and over the years played for a number of West London clubs before becoming head coach for East Grinstead RFC.

When contacted by 1 NEWS, a spokeswoman from the club said she was not in a position to comment.

"We've been told by Met Police to not make a comment but once the officer is named the club will issue a statement on our website."

A Linkedin profile shows Ratana was a graduate from Massey University. He was also well known to the local Croydon community and local Labour MP Steve Reed said Ratana was proud to be a Kiwi.

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"I knew he was a Kiwi, be hard not to know. He came here and he was looking after this community and we knew him as one of us and he's gone and we're devastated."

He added, "this was somebody who was known in this community, he was a beat officer in this neighbourhood, known as someone who was very warm, very friendly, very caring, and the fact people knew him so well has made the loss all the more devastating and painful.

"This isn't a statistic or number this is a human being who cared about the community. So the pain is immense."

Flags outside a number of police stations are flying half-mast.

This kind of incident is very rare in the UK, with the officer being the 17th from the Met Police to be fatally shot since World War II.

A 23-year-old suspect is in a critical condition.