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Autopsy shows 'The Wire' actor Michael K. Williams died of drug overdose

WorldSep 24, 2021 05:56PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Michael K Williams arrives for the premiere of "The Public" at the New York Public Library in New York, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs 2/2

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An autopsy has confirmed actor Michael K. Williams, who played the shotgun-toting drug dealer Omar Little in the HBO crime drama “The Wire,” died of an overdose of drugs, the New York City medical examiner's office said on Friday.

His death was accidental, Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for New York City's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said in an email.

Williams, 54, was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Sept. 6, and police sources said at the time that drug paraphernalia was discovered at the scene.

"Acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine," was the cause of death determined by the medical examiner, Bolcer said in the email.

She declined any further comment on the investigation.

Williams' colleagues remembered his special talent for humanizing the characters he portrayed, bringing to his roles his own experience as a Black man growing up in New York.

Among the real-life struggles he tapped were bouts with drug addiction, which he brought to his best known role for “The Wire.” The TV series was set in Baltimore and told the story of the narcotics trade from the perspective of criminals, police and the people caught between them. Critics praised Williams for his portrayal of Little, a homosexual drug dealer at war with his rivals.

Other television roles that won Williams praise included characters he portrayed in “Boardwalk Empire,” “Bessie” and “Lovecraft Country.”

Williams played the powerful African-American gangster Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire," an HBO series set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era of the 1920's.

During his career, Williams earned Emmy nominations for performances in HBO's "Bessie," "The Night Of" and "Lovecraft Country." He also won praise for his role in the 2019 Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) series "When They See Us," the true story of five teenagers falsely accused of a brutal attack on a female jogger in New York's Central Park, who were eventually exonerated after spending years in prison.

Autopsy shows 'The Wire' actor Michael K. Williams died of drug overdose
 

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