Funeral services for Brooklyn’s beloved District Attorney Ken Thompson drew a huge crowd on Saturday, October 15 as political leaders and other New York City officials took to the podium at the Christian Cultural Center (12020 Flatlands Avenue) to pay tribute to the Bronx-bred D.A., who just days after announcing that he was taking a leave of absence from his post to receive treatment for an aggressive form of cancer, died on Sunday, October 9 at the age of 50.
The day’s speakers, including Thompson’s two children, Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman among others, painted Thompson as a hard-working, passionate and trailblazing man as well as a devoted father and husband.
“We in law enforcement have lost one of our brightest lights, one of our stars,” said Lynch. “Ken had a gift: He could connect to people at the most difficult moments in their lives… he was their bridge to justice.”
“Ken’s passion for justice didn’t come from reading a book, but from living on the block,” added Cuomo. “While other prosecutors worked only to prove guilt, Ken’s office worked to prove innocence.”
Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who’s been serving as acting D.A., will remain in place until the next election in November, 2017, and vowed to continue Thompson’s instrumental work.
“He wanted the office to deliver equal justice for all,” Gonzalez said. “We pledge to nurture the garden you have planted… the seeds of integrity, fairness and justice will flourish.”
Having campaigned on the promise of restoring confidence in the criminal justice system, Thompson established a model Conviction Review Unit which, in three years, moved to vacate or support the dismissal of the convictions of 21 people who were wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses, according to the Thompson family.
Thompson — a graduate of the New York City public school system – became the first African-American to serve the borough as district attorney when he was elected to the post in 2013. Prior to becoming D.A., Thompson served as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, a special assistant to the U.S. Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement in Washington, D.C., and in the General Counsel’s Office at the Treasury.