Medical Examiner Rules Death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam a Suicide

Hank Pennink/AP Images

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who had the distinction of being the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s highest court as well as the country’s first female Muslim judge, committed suicide by drowning in April, according to the New York City medical examiner.

The coroner’s office confirmed its findings in a statement Wednesday, the New York Daily News reports.


Abdus Salaam’s fully clothed body was found floating in the Hudson River on April 12 after her family reported her missing.


Police later obtained security video that showed her walking the streets of Harlem on the night she disappeared.

As previously reported by The Root, Abdus-Salaam’s husband, the Rev. Gregory Jacobs, dismissed reports that she committed suicide.


Abdus-Salaam, 65, was appointed to the state Court of Appeals in 2013. Before that, she served as a Manhattan Supreme Court judge for 14 years, and worked as an attorney with East Brooklyn Legal Services Corp., the city Law Department and the city Office of Labor Services.


Her husband had not released a public statement as of press time.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

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Angela Helm

Ms. Bronner Helm is a Contributing Editor at The Root. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.