D.A. Kenneth Thompson, “Voice for racial justice” but not for molested children…
We would not want to celebrate someone’s demise. It would be purely awful of us. He leaves behind a wife and children, parents and siblings.
We offer our sincerest condolences to those who mourn his loss. We do not.
We can’t help but hope that his successor will do more, just a little more is something, to help the victims of sexual assault, suffered at the hands of Rabbis, and frankly Priests. We find ourselves praying, just short prayer, that his successor cannot be swayed by the power of the bloc of ultra-Orthodox voters and power brokers. Perhaps he will meet these men again…
Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, Dies After Disclosing Cancer
Kenneth P. Thompson, the first black district attorney of Brooklyn and a voice for racial justice at a moment of tension between law enforcement and minority communities, died on Sunday from cancer, his family said. He was 50.
Mr. Thompson was elected district attorney in 2013 after campaigning on a platform of reform and racial justice, and unseating Charles J. Hynes, a fellow Democrat and a troubled incumbent who had served more than 20 years.
After being absent from his office for nearly two months, Mr. Thompson released a statement on Tuesday saying he had cancer. His office released a second statement on Sunday night, announcing his death and saying that his family had been by his side at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan when he died.
A former federal prosecutor who went on to have a successful private law practice, Mr. Thompson earned a reputation in office as one of the country’s most progressive district attorneys, creating a robust internal unit that reviewed questionable convictions and establishing a policy of not prosecuting most low-level marijuana arrests.
At a moment of heightened racial tension over police-related shootings, he chose to prosecute — and eventually won — the complicated case of Peter Liang, the former New York City police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Akai Gurley, in the stairwell of a housing project in 2014. After the trial was over, Mr. Thompson decided not to seek prison time for Mr. Liang, which enraged Mr. Gurley’s family and led to protests.
“The thoughts and prayers of our entire city are with District Attorney Ken Thompson, his family and his loved ones tonight,” Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, said in a statement on Sunday. “With a life and promise cut far too short, our city was blessed with but a glimpse of Ken’s unwavering commitment to justice and his unrivaled pursuit of a more fair system for all those he served.”
Born and raised in New York City, Mr. Thompson was the son of a police officer and lived in public housing in Harlem before moving to Co-Op City, a housing development in the Bronx. He attended the city’s public schools and applied to the Police Department, as his mother had, before choosing instead to attend the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. After his graduation, he obtained a law degree from the New York University School of Law.
On the advice of one of his law professors, Ronald K. Noble, a onetime Treasury Department official and the secretary general of Interpol, Mr. Thompson sought and found a position as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. In 1997, he was assigned the prestigious task of making the opening statement at the trial of Justin Volpe, a former police officer who eventually pleaded guilty to torturing a Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, with a broken broomstick in the bathroom of a Brooklyn station house.
After leaving government service, Mr. Thompson went into private practice. His most prominent case was representing an African-born hotel housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, who accused the French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of raping her in a Manhattan hotel room in 2011. Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, eventually dismissed the case, and Mr. Thompson was criticized for his incendiary personal attacks against Mr. Vance and members of his staff.
Mr. Thompson had harbored ambitions for higher office, but, according to a friend who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Thompson declined to disclose the type of his cancer, learned he had an aggressive form of the disease this year. By the time he received the diagnosis, the cancer had already metastasized and was incurable.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may now name a replacement for Mr. Thompson, who would have faced re-election next year. “A lifelong New Yorker, Ken was known as an effective, aggressive civil rights leader — and a national voice for criminal justice reform,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Sunday.
Mr. Thompson is survived by his wife of 17 years, Lu-Shawn Thompson; his children, Kennedy and Kenny; his mother; his father; his brother; and his sister.
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