NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, who died Sunday after a hard fought battle with cancer, was remembered at a wake Friday afternoon.
The wake was held at the Christian Cultural Center at 12020 Flatlands Ave. in Brooklyn. Funeral services will be held Saturday.
At the wake, New York State Supreme Court Judge and former Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said it is a tragedy that Thompson’s life and tenure as a DA were cut so short so soon.
“But what he did in his short time was really show how committed he was to Brooklyn,” Johnson said.
Johnson told WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini that one of Thompson’s greatest achievements was his Conviction Review Unit that exonerated 21 people over the past two years.
“When you really uncover facts that lead you to believe that you shouldn’t prosecute somebody or that they shouldn’t be prosecuted and you can do something about that — it’s a great reward,” Johnson said. “I’m sure he went to his rest knowing that he did some very good work.”
Thompson became the borough’s first African-American district attorney, after scoring an upset victory in 2013 by defeating longtime Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Before being elected DA, Thompson served as a federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, where he was a member of the team that successfully prosecuted former NYPD Officer Justin Volpe in the 1997 beating and torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.
Thompson also served as 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. He was on the team of attorneys and federal agents that conducted an investigation ordered by President Bill Clinton following the 1993 raid on David Koresh and the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, the DA’s office said.
Thompson also worked with members of Congress and the clergy to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to reinvestigate the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, 14, in Money, Mississippi.
Thompson was born and raised in New York City. His mother, Clara Thompson, was one of the first female NYPD officers to patrol the streets beginning in 1973, and served as a member of the NYPD for 21 years.
Thompson graduated magna cum laude from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and earned his law degree from the NYU Law School, where he received the prestigious Arthur T. Vanderbilt Medal for his contributions to the law school community.
Thompson is survived by his wife of 17 years, Lu-Shawn Thompson; his two children, Kennedy and Kenny; and his mother, father, brother and sister. All were at his bedside at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center when he passed away, the DA’s office said.
Thompson was 50 years old.