THE partner of a police sergeant killed in the line of duty has issued an emotional statement following his death.

Sussex rugby coach Sergeant Matt Ratana died in hospital after being shot by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon custody centre in the early hours of Monday.

Today Su Bushby, his partner of five years, described the 54-year-old from Goring as "my gentle giant" in a tribute to the much-loved New Zealand-born officer.

READ MORE>>>Rugby club falls silent to remember policeman Matt Ratana

She said: "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.

The Argus:

"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.

"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."

The Argus:

Huge mounds of flowers were laid outside the site of the attack in Croydon following the incident while police forces across the country, the House of Commons and several of his former rugby clubs observed a minute of silence in tribute.

East Grinstead Rugby Football Club assistant head coach Ryan Morlen said the news of Sgt Ratana's death would "take time to process".

The 31-year-old said: "As a community he brought a lot of things together. I spoke to Matt every single day… and there are thousands of people out there that really looked up to him.

The Argus:

“As a community we’re unbelievably close and the minute we found out the news we pulled together and that’s the type of club East Grinstead is.

“Nothing is enough to show how much we loved that guy and how much of a role model he was to many, and he really was.”

The murder suspect had been arrested earlier on the night of the shooting over possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition following a stop and search.

The Argus:

He sustained serious injuries during the shooting after turning the gun on himself, and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

No police firearms were fired during the incident and the case is not being treated as terror-related.

Today, a man has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the murder of Sgt Ratana.

He was detained at about 2am in Norwich, Norfolk, on suspicion of supplying a firearm.