Death of Judge Found Dead in River is Suspicious, Police Say



The New York Police department said Tuesday that the death of a New York Court of Appeals judge whose body was found on the banks of the Hudson River in Manhattan last week is suspicious.

The NYPD said it would treat the death of Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve on New York’s top court, as suspicious because there was no immediate indication of suicide or criminality.

“We have a middle aged woman deceased in the water with all her clothes on with no signs of homicide or suicide,” NYPD Sgt. Brendan Ryan told ABC News late Tuesday.

“When a body is found floating in a river, it is deemed suspicious in nature. Absent any clear signs of criminality, the cause of death is determined by the Medical Examiner,” he added.

The department said the death appeared to be non-criminal, but “at this point we can’t say for sure,” according to an NYPD statement.

Abdus-Salaam’s body washed up on the banks of the river in an area near Harlem last Wednesday, a day after she was reported missing, police said.

The NYPD said it is seeking people who may be able to shed light on the hours leading up to her disappearance, with hopes that it will help it to establish what happened.

A spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner said last week that an autopsy conducted on Thursday was inconclusive and required further study, according to The Associated Press.

Last week, two officials — who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing — told The AP that the death was believed to be a suicide.

Abdus-Salaam, 65, was appointed to the New York Court of Appeals by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013. She served as a judge on the Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years.

ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos and Shah Rahmanzadeh contributed to this report.

AP Photo

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