April 19, 2017
UPDATE: New York Police Department Says Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s Death Looks ‘Suspicious.’ Additional investigation is ongoing.
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found dead last Wednesday afternoon, April 12, after her body washed ashore in New York City. The New York Post reports she went missing from her Harlem home early that Wednesday and witnesses discovered her around 1:45p. Upon initial reports, her death appeared to be a suicide. Now, the NYPD are investigating this case as a “suspicious death.”
The NYPD have confirmed Judge Abdus-Salaam was last seen alive at her apartment when a deliveryman dropped off a package. There are still no reported signs of forced entry at her home and she left her purse, wallet and cell phone at home upon exiting the apartment.
“We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can’t say for sure,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told the Post. “We’re hoping if anyone could shed any light into the hours before her disappearance, it would help us establish what happened.”
The NYPD tweeted out a request for information as they review surveillance footage from local stores, buildings and mass transit trying to trace the judge’s final hours.
— NYPD 26th Precinct (@NYPD26Pct) April 18, 2017
Despite new findings, let these final moments NOT be her legacy.
This woman was a trailblazer. She shattered the glass ceiling to become the first Black woman on New York Sate’s highest court and the first Muslim woman to serve as a U.S. judge. Her legacy also included a momentous decision that extended “parental” rights to gay partners, regardless of biological ties.
“Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a statement Wednesday night.
“She was a pioneer,” he said. “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. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing.”
Her friend, colleague and classmate former US Attorney General Eric Holder remembers her as “witty and great deal of fun to spend time with.” He also remembered how proud and excited she was that they had both reached this level of professional achievement, saying:
“Who knew that we would both attain such high positions, and that you would be the first black United States attorney general, and I would be the first black woman on the New York Court of Appeals?”
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