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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Brooklyn District Attorney Steps Aside to Fight Cancer

BROOKLYN (CN) — The district attorney in Brooklyn, a former federal prosecutor in a series of high-profile cases who became the borough's first black district attorney, said on Tuesday that he is stepping down from his office while he battles cancer.

While Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson is gone, the office will be led by Chief Assistant Eric Gonzalez.

"I've dedicated myself and our office's resources over the past three years to keeping the people of our great borough safe while strengthening our commitment to reform and improve our criminal justice system. Since 2014, we have become a model for prosecutors' offices around the country — holding those who break the law accountable by setting one standard of justice for all and fighting for innocent people who were wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit," he said in a statement released Tueday.

"And now I am prepared for another fight."

The 50-year-old Democrat vowed to win the battle against the disease: "Recently, I was diagnosed with cancer."

He did not disclose what kind of cancer it was.

In September 2013, Thompson made tongues wag in Brooklyn's legal community when he bested 20-year incumbent Chuck Hynes in the election that year.

Thompson made headlines again when he led the case against rookie New York Police Department officer Peter Liang, who was found guilty of manslaughter in February for opening fire in an unlit stairwell of East New York's Pink Houses project. That bullet ricocheted and fatally struck unarmed black man Akair Gurley in the chest.

Thompson also created a unit to review wrongful convictions, and its work led to him exonerating 20 people, most of them black men, in the past two years.

Brooklyn's top prosecutor continued to irk the police department when he announced in July 2014 that his office would not prosecute marijuana possession arrests.

Before assuming the office, he worked at a private law firm, then as a federal prosecutor. In that capacity, he worked as a part of the prosecutorial team to get a conviction against officer Justin Volpe, who sodomized Abner Louia with a broom stick inside a police precinct bathroom in 1997. The officer was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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