Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson died Sunday at the age of 50 — just five days after he revealed he was battling cancer.
Thompson’s death at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center came as a shock to the city, which was already reeling from his announcement Tuesday that he was seriously ill with cancer and going on leave to be treated. His family was with him when he died.
“The world lost a great man,” his wife, Lu-Shawn, wrote on Facebook. “Rest in Peace to my husband.”
Thompson was diagnosed with colorectal cancer this spring, according to a knowledgeable source.
Brooklyn DA Kenneth Thompson reveals cancer diagnosis
“I am profoundly saddened,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Ken was a dedicated public servant who embodied the highest principles of the law.”
Cuomo ordered flags to fly at half-staff Monday.
“With a life and promise cut far too short, our city was blessed with but a glimpse of Ken’s unwavering commitment to justice,” Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray said in a statement.
When he revealed his illness Tuesday, Thompson bravely vowed to beat it.
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“As a man of intense faith, I intend to fight and win the battle against this disease,” he said.
Thompson appointed his chief assistant, Eric Gonzalez, to lead the office in his place. Gonzalez will likely serve as acting DA until next year’s election, sources said.Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson, ill with cancer, dies at 50's first black chief prosecutor.
(Jesse Ward/Jesse Ward for New York Daily Ne)
Thompson took office in January 2014 after defeating Charles Hynes, who had served as district attorney since 1990.
Thompson made history by becoming the borough’s first African-American chief prosecutor. He was also the first to defeat a sitting Brooklyn district attorney since 1911.
Thompson ordered his office not to prosecute low-level marijuana arrests, in part to devote more resources to fight gun crimes, rape and domestic violence. He said he also wanted to spare younger New Yorkers from “the burden of a criminal record.”
He also moved to vacate or supported the dismissal of convictions of 21 people wrongly convicted of murder and other offenses.
He presided over the prosecution against Police Officer Peter Liang in the accidental shooting death of Akai Gurley at the Pink Houses.
Liang was convicted of manslaughter — a charge that could have resulted in a 15-year sentence. But Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun controversially reduced the charge to criminally negligent homicide after Thompson asked the judge not to send him to prison.
Thompson grew up in the Bronx’s Co-op City. His mother, Clara, was one of the city’s first female NYPD officers to patrol the streets.
Thompson is survived by his wife of 17 years; his two children, Kennedy and Kenny; his mother; father; brother, and sister. Funeral arrangements had yet to be made public Sunday night. With Jared McCallister.
With Jennifer Fermino, John Marzulli
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