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Official: Video shows Justice Abdus-Salaam before she was found in Hudson River

Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam in April 2013 in Albany.

Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam in April 2013 in Albany. The body of Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found on the shore of the Hudson River off Manhattan on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

NYPD detectives have discovered at least four surveillance videos showing the late Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam walking alone near her Manhattan home in the hours before her body was found in the Hudson River earlier this month, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official, who did not want to be identified, said the videos were discovered by detectives as they attempt to piece together a time line leading up to the discovery of the 65-year-old Abdus-Salaam’s body around 1 p.m. on April 12.

“They show the same thing, she was walking alone,” said the official.

The latest video has a time stamp of about 12:45 a.m. on April 12 and showed Abdus-Salaam at the Riverbank State Park by 141st Street, 10 blocks north of where she lived, some 12 hours before her body was discovered in the water near 125th Street, said the official. The earliest video in the sequence was taken at about 8 p.m. on the night of April 11 and showed her walking west around 131st Street, near her home, added the official.

Police were still looking for additional video and late Wednesday were planningto canvass Upper West Side areas where the images were taken, the official explained. The 26th Precinct has circulated on its website a poster about the judge, saying detectives were seeking information about a “deceased person.”

The poster notes Abdus-Salaam was discovered wearing a charcoal gray sweatshirt which zipped in the front and bore the red letters “Canada” on the front, as well as an image of the Canadian flag on the left side of the jacket. She was wearing black sweatpants, white ankle socks and white New Balance sneakers, police said.

Discovery of the recording was deemed helpful for the investigation because it shows the jurist, who in 2013 became the first African-American woman to serve on the state Court of Appeals, was alone, said the official.

While some law enforcement officials said police are leaning toward suicide as a possible cause of Abdus-Salaam’s death, they have not made a firm determination. Results of an autopsy have so far been inconclusive, the city medical examiner said.

In response to news reports that Abdus-Salaam’s death was said by police to be “suspicious,” the NYPD put out a statement Wednesday morning saying that “when a body is found floating in a river it is deemed suspicious in nature.”

If an autopsy result is inconclusive then “detectives conduct further investigation in an effort to establish any such information or evidence which may assist in determining the possible circumstances under which the victim’s death occurred,” the NYPD statement said.

“Until such a determination is made, the death may be classified as suspicious, in that the circumstances have not been clearly established,” the NYPD statement explained.


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