Kenneth P. Thompson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Kenneth P. Thompson
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson.jpg
Kenneth P. Thompson
Kings County District Attorney
In office
January 1, 2014 (2014-01-01) – October 9, 2016 (2016-10-09)
Preceded by Charles J. Hynes
Succeeded by Eric Gonzalez
Personal details
Born (1966-03-14)March 14, 1966
New York City, New York
Died October 9, 2016(2016-10-09) (aged 50)
Manhattan, New York
Cause of death Cancer
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lu-Shawn Thompson
(m. 1999; his death 2016)
Parents Clara and William Thompson
Residence Brooklyn, New York
Alma mater John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York University School of Law
Known for First African-American Brooklyn DA[1]
Religion Christianity[2]

Kenneth P. "Ken" Thompson (March 14, 1966 – October 9, 2016) was the District Attorney of Kings County, New York, from 2014 until his death from cancer on October 9, 2016.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Kenneth Thompson's parents, William and Clara Thompson, divorced in his early childhood.[2] In 1973, Clara became one of the first patrolwomen in the New York City Police Department.[1]

After graduating from New York City public schools, Kenneth attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and in 1989 he graduated magna cum laude. He then graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1992, where he earned the Arthur T. Vanderbilt Medal for contributions to the law school community.[1]


Federal positions[edit]

Thompson began as an attorney in the United States Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., where he served as Special Assistant to former Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement and then Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald K. Noble.[2]

In 1995 Thompson accepted a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under Zachary W. Carter, in the United States Attorney's Office in Brooklyn. During his tenure, he worked with Loretta Lynch as a member of the federal prosecution team in the 1997 trial of former New York City police officer Justin Volpe, who was accused of sodomizing Abner Louima inside a bathroom at the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn.[2] The watershed police brutality trial, at which Thompson delivered the opening prosecution arguments, resulted in Volpe changing his plea from 'not guilty' to 'guilty'.[3]

Private practice[edit]

After his time as a federal prosecutor, Thompson went into private practice, first at the international law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius[2] and then at his own law firm specializing in employment litigation, Thompson Wigdor LLP,[4] which he co-founded in 2003.[5]

Thompson also worked with Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, other elected officials, and members of the clergy to convince the United States Department of Justice to reopen the investigation into the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi.[6]

In 2011, he represented Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel housekeeper who claimed that she was sexually assaulted in a Manhattan hotel room by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund.[7] Her case was dropped by government prosecutors, who stated they were not convinced of his culpability beyond a reasonable doubt due to serious issues in Diallo's credibility and inconclusive physical evidence, and therefore could not ask a jury to believe it.[8][9]

District Attorney[edit]

In September 2013, Thompson defeated incumbent Charles J. Hynes in the Democratic primary for Brooklyn District Attorney, where Thompson ran as a critic of the New York City Police Department. After Hynes decided to run on the Republican and Conservative party lines in the general election in November, Thompson defeated him again.[10]

Thompson was the first challenger to defeat a sitting District Attorney in Brooklyn since 1911, and the first African-American district attorney of Kings County. He took office on January 1, 2014.[3]

His tenure was particularly noted for his advocacy of minority communities, a crackdown on gun violence, an internal review board that exonerated at least 20 wrongfully convicted defendants, and his "Solomonic" decision not to seek prison time after convicting a rookie police officer of manslaughter for the ricochet shooting of Akai Gurley in a dark stairwell.[11]

After Thompson's death from cancer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Thompson's Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzalez would serve out the remaining year of Thompson's term.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Thompson married Lu-Shawn Thompson in 1999; the couple had two children.[1]

On October 4, 2016, Thompson announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer.[11][14] He died on October 9 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at the age of 50.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Ken Thompson Obituary" (PDF). The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. Retrieved October 19, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Feuer, Alan (March 13, 2015). "For Brooklyn's District Attorney, Year One Is a Trial by Fire". New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Toppo, Greg (October 10, 2016). "Kenneth Thompson, Brooklyn's first black prosecutor, dies at 50". USA Today. Retrieved October 19, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Firm". Wigdor LLP ( Retrieved October 9, 2016. Formed over ten years ago, the Firm was known as Thompson Wigdor LLP. Since partner Kenneth P. Thompson’s election as the Brooklyn District Attorney, the Firm has been re-named Wigdor LLP .
  5. ^ "Wigdor LLP – Firm Profile". Retrieved October 9, 2016. 
  6. ^ Leung, Rebecca (February 11, 2009). "Justice, Delayed But Not Denied". CBS News. Retrieved November 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ Yee, Vivian (August 21, 2013). "Candidate for Brooklyn Prosecutor Drew Criticism for Case That Made His Name". New York Times. p. A17. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ Eligon, John (August 23, 2011). "Judge Orders Dismissal of Charges Against Strauss-Kahn". New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  9. ^ Rothfeld, Michael (August 22, 2011). "DA Moves to Abandon Strauss-Kahn Charges". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ Yee, Vivian (November 6, 2013). "Thompson Defeats Hynes, Again, for Brooklyn District Attorney". New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Feuer, Alan (October 5, 2016). "Ken Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, Says He Has Cancer and Will Take Leave". New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2016. 
  12. ^ Orden, Erica (October 17, 2016). "Kenneth Thompson's Top Deputy to Lead Brooklyn District Attorney's Office". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ Carrega-Woodby, Christina; Fermino, Jennifer (October 17, 2016). "Cuomo to let acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez finish term despite push for Public Advocate Letitia James". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 17, 2016. 
  14. ^ Thompson, Kenneth P. (October 4, 2016). "Statement from Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson" (PDF). Retrieved October 10, 2016. 

Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles J. Hynes
Kings County District Attorney
Succeeded by
Eric Gonzalez