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Killed: Matt Ratana

Killed: Matt Ratana

PA

Killed: Matt Ratana

A UK police officer shot dead by a handcuffed suspect at a south London station had moved into custody work because he thought it was safer as he approached retirement, a friend said.

Tributes have poured in for Metropolitan Police Sergeant Matiu Ratana following his death after a 23-year-old gunman opened fire at Croydon Custody Centre in south London in the early hours of Friday.

Investigations are continuing into how the suspect, who had been detained for possession of ammunition and possession of class B drugs, was able to access the weapon.

Sgt Ratana (54), known as Matt to family and friends, thought working in the custody suite was his "safest option" as he neared the end of his lengthy police career, friend Neil Donohue said.

Mr Donohue told reporters: "He thought it was his safest option just to see him through to his retirement."