The first African American woman appointed to New York’s highest court has been found dead.
Graduating from Columbia University School of Law, the first African American woman appointed to New York’s highest court has been found dead floating on the shore of the Hudson River, according to reports. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, age 65, was discovered in the river yesterday, April 12, 2017, around 1:45 pm.
The prestigious judge had just spent a week in New Jersey with her husband, Gregory Jacobs, a minister at the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. It wasn’t long before Salaam would have been reported missing by her husband that following Tuesday morning.
Rumors circulate by police, that her death was most likely a suicide. Her closest friends and family, those who know her best, feel like those claims are incorrect.
Former Harlem Assembly man, Keith Wright, said:
“She was always a very calming beautiful presence… she became one of the brightest and most respected legal minds in the U.S.”
Harlem Neighbor Pat Miller (age 56) could not accept the slightest idea that this was a suicidal incident.
“I could not imagine her doing anything to herself to harm herself,” Miller told reporters. “She’s not that type of person… I’d like to know what happened.
NYPD Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce told reporters that it is just too early to determine whether or not this was intentional suicide, an accident, or possible homicide. However, Boyce did share that the death does not appear to be criminal. Salaam suffered no apparent injuries. It is also believed that she was not in the water for a long period of time.
Sheila Abdul-Salaam, a well known and respected leader in the judicial system, was nominated by Governor Cuomo in 2013 for a seat on New York’s Court of Appeals. It was then that she would be the first female Muslim to take the seat. Making history, Salaam was the first black woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court and also the highpoint of a legal career.
Abdus-Salaam attended public schools and became interested in the law by watching the TV show “Perry Mason.” Salaam knew what her calling was after Frankie Muse Freeman, a civil rights attorney and the first woman to be appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, visited her high school. She knew then that she wanted to use the law to help people, she recalled.
“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,” New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, added on to the high praises of the New York Judge.
“The first black woman to be appointed to a seat on New York’s highest court, she lived up to her reputation of being smart, principled, and rigorously fair. Justice Abdus-Salaam leaves a void not only on the State’s highest bench, but in the criminal justice system as a whole. On behalf of the entire Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, I would like to express my deepest condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues,” Vance said in a statement.
Spoken very highly of, an assumption of suicide seems as if that idea should be out of the question. Only good things spoken, and positive stories told. Stay tuned for more updates on this story.