By Colleen Long
Ken Thompson was elected district attorney in Brooklyn on Tuesday, defeating longtime incumbent Charles "Joe" Hynes, who refused to accept defeat after a bruising Democratic primary.
With 74 percent of precincts reporting, Thompson was leading with nearly 72 percent of the vote. Hynes had 28 percent.
Thompson, a former federal prosecutor who tried the New York City police officers accused of attacking Abner Louima in 1999, will be Brooklyn's first black district attorney. He is taking over one of the largest district attorney's offices in the country, with more than 80,000 cases a year.
As a private attorney, he was best known for representing the hotel maid at the center of a sex assault scandal involving former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Thompson, 48, initially beat Hynes during the Democratic primary in September, the first time in a century a sitting district attorney was ousted. Hynes initially said he would respect the vote, then changed his mind and campaigned on the Republican ballot line
The move launched a heated battle, with Hynes arguing Thompson didn't have the qualifications for the job and Thompson saying Hynes turned his back on the people of Brooklyn by not following his word to make the transition smooth.
Thompson has said he wants to change the culture of the office and bring in new technology. He hopes to tackle gun violence, create a cybercrime unit to combat rising identity theft, and retrain lawyers on evidence rules after a series of wrongful convictions were exposed.
He also said he would not prosecute drug possession cases involving less than 15 grams of marijuana, because he believes the resources would be better spent on more serious crimes. He'd offer noncriminal fines instead, he said.
"I hope to change the culture of the office," he told The Associated Press in an interview after the primary. "I want the assistant district attorneys who work for me to know that the fundamental duty of the prosecutor is to do justice and not just to convict someone."