UPDATE: After initially reporting her death as a suicide, the New York Police Department are now saying that state Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s death is “suspicious.”
“We have a middle-aged woman deceased in the water with all her clothes on with no signs of homicide or suicide,” New York Police Sgt. Brendan Ryan told ABC News this past Tuesday. “At this point, we can’t say for sure.”
What has surely added to this change is the fact that the autopsy results on Abdus-Salaam came back as inconclusive.
Read the original story below.
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first Muslim woman judge in the United States, was found floating in the Hudson River earlier this afternoon.
Abdus-Salaam was also the first black woman to sit on the New York Court of Appeals. She was found not far from her home in Harlem, a day after her husband reported her missing.
The medical examiner is still trying to determine the exact cause of death, but it does not look like there was foul play involved.
Abdus-Salaam had a long, distinguished career. She was elected as a judge in New York City in 1991. Two years later, she was elected to New York County’s Supreme Court. She kept moving up the ladder and by 2013 she was appointed and confirmed to the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state.
Abdus-Salaam was known for being a progressive voice. Last year, she wrote one of her most important decision, one that expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent, protecting nonbiological LGBT parents in the process.
After the news came out, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement praising Abdus-Salaam:
“As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer. Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio showed his respect with a tweet:
Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Sheila Abdus-Salaam. She was a humble pioneer. My thoughts are with her family.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 13, 2017
Abdus-Salaam was 65.