Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday, October 17 that, in the wake of District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s death, he will not appoint a replacement D.A.
Instead, he said in a statement, Chief Assistant Eric Gonzalez, who’s been serving as Acting D.A., will remain in place until the next election in November, 2017.
“Ken Thompson established a new model at the Brooklyn district attorney’s office,” said Cuomo. “His focus on proving innocence as well as proving guilt set a new precedent. His legacy should be the continuation of that model and his selection of the person who should run the office in his absence – his number two – should be honored.
“Until the next election, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office will continue to be led by Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who District Attorney Thompson named earlier to continue his office’s work in his absence,” the governor went on. “Keeping the first deputy in place when there is mid-term vacancy by a district attorney is consistent with past practice under this administration.”
Gonzalez, the first Latino to ever serve as chief assistant to Brooklyn’s district attorney, is also a native Brooklynite who first began work with the D.A.’s office in 2011 and was named chief assistant in fall of 2014.
“I am deeply honored to be able to carry out District Attorney Thompson’s vision of equal justice for all in Brooklyn and I pledge to continue his criminal justice reforms,” said Gonzalez. “I am fully committed to the important initiatives that we have put in place and will work every day to keep the people of Brooklyn safe. I thank Governor Cuomo for having the faith in me to carry on the important work of this office.”
Thompson, a graduate of the New York City public schools system who was elected in 2013 as the first African-American to serve the borough as district attorney, succumbed to colon cancer on Sunday, October 9 — just days after announcing that he was taking a leave of absence from his post to receive treatment. He was 50 years old.
The governor’s announcement comes on the heels of rumors that Public Advocate Letitia James, former prosecutor Ann Swern and former Commissioner on Human Rights Patricia Gatling were all eyeing the temporary seat.