Ken Thompson was sworn in as Brooklyn District Attorney on January 1, 2014.
Since being elected district attorney, he has created many innovative and important units and bureaus. For example, his newly formed Violent Criminal Enterprises (VCE) Bureau is designed to eradicate firearms traffickers, violent street gangs, and drug dealers who terrorize our neighborhoods and flood our streets with illegal guns. His Conviction Review Unit, which has emerged as a model for the country, has led Mr. Thompson to move—in the interest of justice—to vacate or support the dismissal of the convictions of 21 people who were wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses. District Attorney Thompson has also created an Immigrant Fraud Unit to protect immigrants in Brooklyn who are often ripped off and exploited by fake lawyers and scam artists, a Labor Frauds Unit to protect hardworking employees and honest employers, as well as a Cybercrimes Unit, a Hate Crimes Unit, and a Crime Strategies Unit.
District Attorney Thompson has also implemented a policy to not prosecute low-level marijuana possession arrests, in order to spare young people from the burden of a criminal record and to instead allocate further law enforcement resources for the prosecution of more serious crimes like gun violence, sexual assaults, and domestic violence.
Mr. Thompson is a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, where he was a member of the team that successfully prosecuted former New York City Police Officer Justin Volpe in the brutal 1997 beating and torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in the 70th Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn. At the Louima federal civil rights trial, Mr. Thompson delivered the opening statement on behalf of the United States. Officer Volpe eventually pled guilty in the middle of the trial and is now serving 30 years in federal prison.
Mr. Thompson also served as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement in Washington, D.C., and in the General Counsel’s Office at Treasury. He was on the team of lawyers and federal agents that conducted the investigation ordered by President Clinton of the 1993 raid on David Koresh and the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, in which four federal agents were killed and 16 others were shot and seriously wounded.
After serving as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Thompson worked at a prominent international law firm. He then co-founded his own firm, where he represented victims of pregnancy discrimination, as well as those who had been subjected to unlawful prejudice due to their race, gender, age, religion, or sexual orientation.
Mr. Thompson also worked with members of Congress and the clergy to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to reinvestigate the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi. Emmett Till’s brutal death by torture had helped spark the civil rights movement, inspiring Rosa Parks in part to take her stand on December 1, 1955, during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
District Attorney Thompson was born and raised in New York City, where his mother, Clara Thompson, was one of the first female police officers in the New York City Police Department to patrol the streets in 1973, and went on to serve as a member of the NYPD for 21 years. A graduate of New York City public schools, Mr. Thompson went on to graduate magna cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He then earned his law degree at New York University Law School, where he was awarded the prestigious Arthur T. Vanderbilt Medal for his outstanding contributions to the law school community.
Mr. Thompson resides in Brooklyn with his wife and their two children.