When the body of a famed judge was found floating in the Hudson River in April, authorities didn’t yet know how it had gotten there. After months of investigation, the city’s medical examiner has announced that Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, committed suicide.
It was determined that drowning had been the cause of death, USA Today reported. The information was made public yesterday and marks the end of a lengthy wait for answers in the loss of the first black woman to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals.
While comments regarding the confirmation of the suicide haven’t been given by Abdus-Salaam's family or the Court of Appeals, Eric Phillips, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, told USA Today it was “an incredibly sad situation.”
“The legal community and our entire city are very much reeling from the loss,” he said.
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At the time of Abdus-Salaam’s death, there were few leads available to authorities, who depended on surveillance footage to track the hours leading up to her suicide, Pix11 News reported. On the evening of April 11, the judge left her Harlem home at about 9 p.m., eventually ending up at a park on the Hudson River after midnight, and she was subsequently discovered dead by the next afternoon.
The New York Daily News reported that friends of Abdus-Salaam said she had been suffering from depression. However, her husband fought back against reports that she had taken her own life. And rumors after her death that a family member had committed suicide around the same time in a previous year were debunked. (Abdus-Salaam was also originally identified as a Muslim, although she had not converted to the faith, despite marrying a Muslim man.)
The medical examiner's report indicated that no foul play was involved in the judge's death.