Michael K. Williams’ Cause of Death Was a Drug Overdose, Authorities Say

Sadye Matula

The death this thirty day period of Michael K. Williams, the Brooklyn actor most renowned for his unforgettable portrayal of a homosexual stickup man in “The Wire,” was brought on by an accidental drug overdose involving fentanyl, New York City’s clinical examiner mentioned on Friday. Mr. Williams, 54, was located […]

The death this thirty day period of Michael K. Williams, the Brooklyn actor most renowned for his unforgettable portrayal of a homosexual stickup man in “The Wire,” was brought on by an accidental drug overdose involving fentanyl, New York City’s clinical examiner mentioned on Friday.

Mr. Williams, 54, was located dead in his condominium in the Williamsburg segment of Brooklyn on Sept. 6. The health care examiner mentioned the official cause of loss of life was “acute intoxication by the put together consequences of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine.”

A longtime consultant for Mr. Williams did not right away reply to a ask for for comment.

The existence of numerous medications in Mr. Williams’s program at the time of his loss of life does not always suggest irrespective of whether he took individuals medicines together or individually, or no matter whether he applied them knowingly or unknowingly.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be 50 times a lot more potent than heroin and is more cost-effective to produce and distribute, has observed enhanced use in the United States in recent yrs as an alternate to heroin or prescription opioids. It has also contributed to a increase in deadly overdoses among the more mature people and African-People in america.

Although it is popular for heroin to be mixed with fentanyl, the blend of cocaine and fentanyl just lately drew notice immediately after eight people today overdosed on Extended Island following taking the two prescription drugs. Six of people overdoses have been deadly.

It is unattainable to know which of the medications found in Mr. Williams process triggered his dying, or irrespective of whether a lethal combination was to blame, but fentanyl adulteration in both equally heroin and cocaine is a growing threat.

Ahead of his demise, Mr. Williams — most recognised for his function on a exhibit that tackled medications, habit, corruption and the police — experienced brazenly discussed his struggles with drug addiction in interviews.

In 2016, he instructed NPR’s Terry Gross that he had started off doing medicines during the second or 3rd season of “The Wire,” the beloved HBO sequence in which he performed Omar Small, a principled thief who specialised in robbing drug sellers and who former President Barack Obama the moment said at a marketing campaign rally was his most loved character on television.

Mr. Williams achieved Mr. Obama, then a senator, at that rally in 2008. Mr. Williams advised The New York Moments in 2017 that he was superior at the time and could hardly converse. Listening to Mr. Obama compliment his function, he reported, “woke me up.”

According to preliminary information from the Facilities for Sickness Manage and Avoidance, drug overdoses have risen in the United States in the course of the pandemic. In 2020, extra than 93,000 persons overdosed, an improve of practically 30 p.c above the preceding 12 months.

New York Town seasoned a history-breaking increase in these types of deaths, with more than 1,600 people dying over the training course of the calendar year and about five dying every single working day, in accordance to the Business office of the Specific Narcotics Prosecutor for the Town of New York. The large bulk of individuals deaths associated fentanyl.

Mr. Williams grew up in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush community and preserved significant ties to the neighborhood even as his profession drew him away. People there mentioned they were being devastated by his death.

For a long time, Mr. Williams participated in youth-concentrated events or food items drives for the hungry. He was a vocal advocate for legal justice reform and ending mass incarceration.

But his connections to his roots arrived in fewer tangible ways far too: he mentioned that he continually drew inspiration for his figures from folks in the neighborhood.

Outside of “The Wire,” Mr. Williams acted in acclaimed series like “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Evening Of” and “When They See Us,” a mini-series about the 5 Black and Latino teens wrongfully convicted in the rape and assault of a white lady in Central Park. (Mr. Williams was in his 20s and living in New York City when the trial took location and mentioned he felt a complex link to it.)

He gained 5 Emmy Award nominations above his career, which includes 1 this 12 months for supporting actor in a drama collection for his role in “Lovecraft County.”

At the ceremony, held on Sunday, the actress Kerry Washington paused to spend tribute to Mr. Williams just before presenting the award in his class. She explained him as “a brilliantly talented actor and a generous human remaining.”

Ms. Washington then resolved Mr. Williams: “Michael, I know you’re right here, mainly because you wouldn’t skip this. Your excellence, your artistry will endure. We enjoy you.”

Sarah Maslin Nir contributed reporting.

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