NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson died Sunday from cancer, his family and staff said. He was 50. His death came just days after he publicly revealed that he was ill and planned to take leave to undergo treatment. Several officials released statements about Thompson's passing.
Kings County Chief Assistant District Attorney Eric Gonzalez
It is with deep regret and tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of DA Ken Thompson. He was a giant among those seeking to reform the criminal justice system and we are all privileged to have worked under his transformative leadership these past three years.
In that short period, he transformed the Office into a model urban prosecutor's office, with a mandate to do justice and treat everyone and every case fairly and with utmost integrity. Among his many initiatives, he created a model for correcting wrongful convictions, instituted a marijuana policy that would later be replicated citywide and started a summons forgiveness program that would also be instituted in several other jurisdictions. Our sincere prayers are with his wife, children and loved ones. May he rest in peace, knowing that he has made Brooklyn and New York City a better place.
The executive team and I are committed to leading the Office and carrying out DA Thompson's vision and initiatives.
United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch
With the passing of Kenneth Thompson, the United States has lost a tireless defender of equal rights and a steadfast champion of equal justice. Through our work together as federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, I came to know Ken as a devoted public servant. That determination was at the center of all his cases, including the prosecution of police officers for the assault upon Abner Louima, a case I had the privilege of working on alongside him. Ken leaves behind a proud legacy of integrity, selflessness and excellence. Our nation is a stronger and safer place because of his dedicated service. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He will be truly missed.
United States Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York
Our thoughts and prayers are with Ken Thompson's wife, children, parents, brother and sister. Ken spent much of his adult life serving the public and seeking justice. Ken was a bright light who worked tirelessly to make the people of Brooklyn and the City safer. We all mourn this terrible and untimely loss.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
I am profoundly saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson after a battle with cancer. Ken was a dedicated public servant who embodied the highest principles of the law, and his grand presence will be sorely missed.
A lifelong New Yorker, Ken was known as an effective, aggressive civil rights leader - and a national voice for criminal justice reform. When he took office in 2014, Ken became the first African-American in history to serve as Brooklyn District Attorney. He also served with distinction as a federal prosecutor, working with Loretta Lynch in the Eastern District of New York before founding a law firm devoted to social justice and the fight against discrimination.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Thompson family, friends and neighbors, and the entire Brooklyn community at this difficult time. As a tribute to Ken's enduring legacy, I am directing all flags to half staff on Monday, October 10, 2016.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
I am devastated to learn of the death of my dear friend and colleague, Ken Thompson. Ken was a wonderful and committed public servant. In less than three years as District Attorney, Ken had an indelible impact on Brooklyn, our city, and our criminal justice system. Ken practiced law with a sense of fairness and respect for everyone in the courtroom and cared deeply and fought hard to advance the cause of civil rights. As an elected official, Ken embodied the highest ideals of public service, always doing what he believed was right, not just what was popular. Ken Thompson's time in public office will shine as an example to those of us in law enforcement for years to come. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray
The thoughts and prayers of our entire city are with District Attorney Ken Thompson, his family and his loved ones tonight. With a life and promise cut far too short, our city was blessed with but a glimpse of Ken's unwavering commitment to justice and his unrivaled pursuit of a more fair system for all those he served. Our courtrooms and our communities have no doubt been dealt a blow with Ken's passing, but I am confident the indelible mark left by his public service will forever be a part of the fabric of our justice system. Tonight we mourn the loss of a champion of reform. Our task now will be to rise each day forward in the spirit Ken lived his life.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer
I am saddened beyond words to hear of the tragic passing of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson. Ken was a courageous fighter for civil rights and a leader in the battle to bring justice -- however long deferred -- to people who were unjustly imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit. As a former federal prosecutor and a pioneering Brooklyn District Attorney, he championed the cause of equal justice for all. But Ken was not only passionate about the rule of law, he was devoted to his wife and two children. He was a friend to me, as he was to many, and he will be greatly missed. I offer my deepest condolences to his loved ones and to the extended Brooklyn DA family at this difficult time.
New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
I was privileged to work with Ken, first in his capacity as a gifted courtroom advocate, and subsequently during his too-brief tenure as a public servant committed to advancing public safety and justice reform for the People of Kings County. Ken and I began as courtroom adversaries but became friends. I will truly miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Lu-Shawn, the Thompson family, and our partners in Brooklyn.
Bronx County District Attorney Darcel Clark
My prayers go out to the family of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who lost his battle with cancer after accomplishing so much good for the citizens of his County, State, and Nation as a true warrior in the fight for justice.
In his short tenure, he was in the vanguard of a new approach to criminal justice, with initiatives such as the Conviction Review Unit and the "Begin Again" program that I and other prosecutors have emulated.
Ken Thompson was a dedicated public servant, and I was privileged to learn much from him during the last year while we served together as District Attorneys in the City of New York. I shall forever be grateful to him for his counsel, friendship and words of wisdom.
May God bless him and his family in this time of sorrow, and may his family find some comfort in his splendid legacy.
New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill
We are deeply saddened by the death of District Attorney Ken Thompson. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice and his legacy will live on through his contributions to the criminal justice system. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this time.
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez of New York
All of us in Brooklyn and New York are praying for Ken's family and all those who knew and loved him. Our borough and our city are better places because of Ken's steadfast work to advance justice. His contributions in areas like reducing gun violence and the 'Begin Again' initiative made our city safer and our justice system fairer. We will always remember the accomplishments he made. I hope the progress he helped drive forward during his life is a comfort to his family.
Citizens Crime Commission President Richard Aborn
This is a sad day for Brooklyn, New York and the entire criminal justice community. Ken Thompson worked honorably on behalf of the borough he loved, made history as Brooklyn's first African American district attorney, and accomplished much in fart-too-short a time in office. His presence will be deeply missed in both the criminal justice and law enforcement communities.
New York University Law School Dean Trevor Morrison
Ken was a visionary leader, a trailblazing district attorney, and a courageous voice for reform of the criminal justice system.