Police sergeant Matt Ratana was shot to death in an unlawful killing after colleagues failed to properly search the gunman, an inquest has ruled.
De Zoysa, who is autistic, fired four shots with an antique revolver at Croydon custody suite, two of which hit 54-year-old Sgt Ratana.
He had earlier been arrested and searched but officers failed to find the gun the 26-year-old had in an underarm holster, despite discovering bullets in his pocket.
At an inquest into Sgt Ratana’s death at Croydon town hall today, senior coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe ruled it was an unlawful killing.
She said: ‘There was a failure to carry out a safe, thorough and systematic search’.
Pc Richard Davey, a probationer who carried out the search while his more experienced colleague, Pc Samantha Still, assisted, admitted he did not use his training sufficiently and should have found the gun during the arrest in London Road, Norbury, at about 1.30am.
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In footage from the custody van, de Zoysa is seen wriggling and jerking, movements that suggest he was repositioning the firearm to his hands.
After arriving at Croydon’s Windmill Road custody centre, de Zoysa was allowed to walk without an officer gripping his arm, or handcuffs.
De Zoysa, a former tax office data analyst, later managed to move his handcuffed arms from behind his back to fire at Sgt Ratana.
The New Zealand-born officer, who had served in the Met for almost 30 years and was three months from retirement, was hit in the chest by the first of three shots discharged by de Zoysa within three seconds.
A second bullet struck him in the thigh before de Zoysa was wrestled to the ground by other officers and a third round hit the cell wall.
De Zoysa, who was living in a flat on a farm in Banstead, Surrey, fired a fourth shot while on the cell floor, which hit an artery in his own neck and caused him brain damage.
He is serving a whole-life jail term for Sgt Ratana’s murder after a trial earlier this year, during which his legal team said he was suffering an autistic meltdown at the time of the shooting.
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