5 Things We Know About The Death Of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam — Was It Suicide?

Photo: USA Today
 Sheila Abdus-Salaam

Trailblazer was found dead in the Hudson River.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who made history as the first-ever female Muslim judge in U.S. history and the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s highest court, was found dead in the Hudson river in New York on Wednesday afternoon. 

According to reports from USA Today, the news of her death has come as quite a shock to those who knew her and worked with her.

Here are 5 details we have so far about Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam:

1. Her husband, who reported his 65-year-old missing Tuesday morning, identified her body, according to police.

2. Family and friends told a local CBS TV station that Abdus-Salaam had been struggling with depression.

4. There were no visible injuries to the body, leading police on Thursday to call her death "noncriminal" and to suspect suicide.

5. Her body was discovered floating fully clothed on the Manhattan side of the river just before 2 p.m, only a mile away from her home.

5. She was unconscious and unresponsive when pulled from the river and was later pronounced dead by emergency medical personnel, police said.

Though it is still unclear how Abdus-Salaam died, and what's perfectly visible is the impact her life and work had to all those she worked for, especially the LGBTQ community.

Abdus-Salaam was widely known for writing a landmark decision that helped gay and lesbian parents and other parents with no biological ties gain the same parenting rights as biological parents.

Lambda Legal, a New York-based organization that worked with Abdus-Salaam on the parenting case, said in a statement that her death marked a great loss to the advocacy community. 

"Judge Abdus-Salaam saw clearly how damaging it was to keep LGBT parents from their children," the organization wrote in a statement published to its website. "We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. She touched the lives of many New Yorkers; her legacy will live on."

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore released a statement on behalf of the New York Court of Appeals.

She stated, “The New York Court of Appeals was saddened to learn today of the passing of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a most beloved colleague since she joined the Court in May 2013," she continued saying, “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness, and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her.

“Sheila’s smile could light up the darkest room. The people of New York can be grateful for her distinguished public service. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, and we will miss her greatly,” she concluded.