A groundbreaking black jurist who became the first Muslim woman to serve as a U.S. judge was found dead in New York’s Hudson River on April 12, police said.
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a 65-year-old associate judge of New York’s highest court, was found floating off Manhattan’s west side at about 1:45 p.m. EDT (3:45 p.m. GMT), a police spokesman said.
Police pulled Abdus-Salaam’s fully clothed body from the water and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her family identified her and an autopsy would determine the cause of death, the spokesman said.
On Wednesday, after responding to an emergency call, officers with the New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit found the body of Judge Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York State’s highest court, in the Hudson River in Harlem with no apparent signs of trauma and no indications of foul play. The police are treating her death as a suicide, although an investigation is continuing.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday that Judge Abdus-Salaam was a pioneer with an “unshakable moral compass.” He added, “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.”
Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School. She became a public defender in Brooklyn after law school, the New York Times said, representing people who could not afford lawyers.
In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.
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