The mysterious death of respected Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam is now being treated as ‘suspicious.’
Judge Adbus Salaam, the first black woman appointed to serve on New York State’s highest court and the first female Muslim judge in the United States, was found dead in the Hudson River earlier this month.
Sources from within the New York Police Department had earlier said that her death appeared to be a suicide — in part because she reportedly had a personal and family history of depression — but police are now looking more closely at the judge’s final hours to explain how she got into the river.
“We’re looking at it as a suspicious death at this point,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told the New York Post.
“We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can’t say for sure. We’re hoping if anyone could shed any light into the hours before her disappearance, it would help us establish what happened.”
According to the Daily News, NYPD is looking to speak to anyone who saw or communicated with Judge Adbus Salaam on April 12, the day her husband reported her missing, hours before she was floating in the Hudson River near Harlem, where she lived.
Police told the Daily News that they are looking for more information because her specific cause of death is unclear.
“Suspicious means we don’t know what happened. That’s why it’s suspicious,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, the NYPD’s top spokesperson. “We have to look at all possible leads. There’s nothing at this point to indicate criminality.”
According to the New York Post, the last known person to see the judge alive was a delivery person who dropped off a package at her home the morning of April 12. Judge Abdus Salaam had reportedly called in sick to work the previous day, and also did not appear on Wednesday April 12, though she did not communicate with anyone in her office that day. When a colleague noted she was missing from work for a second day, they called her husband of eight months, who reported her missing.
Searchers pulled her body from the Hudson River, about a mile from her home, later that afternoon. She reportedly left her cell phone and purse behind, which can be indicative of suicidal intent.
The pioneering judge was known for her commitment to social justice. After her death, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo commended her for her “unshakable moral compass.”
Photo: Associated Press