New York Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found dead on Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River. As of Thursday, police have said that her body showed no signs of trauma and that her death is not considered suspicious. According to Robert Bryce, chief of detectives for the NYPD, ongoing investigations have indicated a possible suicide. Questions remain in the case, however, and a medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death.
Abdus-Salaam, 65, one of seven children born to working class parents in Washington, became the first African-American woman and the first Muslim to serve on New York’s highest court after being named to the state’s Court of Appeals by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Cuomo hailed Abdus-Salaam as “a trailblazing jurist and a force for good.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also mourned the judge’s death, describing her as “a humble pioneer.”