An autopsy has verified actor Michael K Williams, who portrayed the shotgun-toting drug dealer Omar Little in the HBO crime drama The Wire, perished of an overdose of drugs, the New York City medical examiner’s office said on Friday.
His death was unexpected, Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, said in an email. Williams established dead in his Brooklyn apartment on Sept. 6, and police sources told at the time that drug paraphernalia was found at the scene.
“Acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine,” was the reason for death specified by the medical examiner, Bolcer said in the email. She refused any further statement on the investigation.
Williams’ colleagues recalled his special talent for humanizing the characters he portrayed, giving rise to his roles his own experience as a Black man growing up in New York.
Among the real-life struggles he tapped were battles with drug addiction, which he brought to his best known character for The Wire. The TV series was set in Baltimore and told the tale of the narcotics trade from the standpoint of fugitives, police and the people caught between them. Critics honoured Williams for his description of Little, a homosexual drug dealer at war with his rivals.
Other television roles that earned Williams praise comprised characters he portrayed in Boardwalk Empire, Bessie and Lovecraft Country.
Williams played the influential African-American gangster Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, an HBO series set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.
During his career, Williams received Emmy nominations for performances in HBO’s Bessie, The Night Of and Lovecraft Country. He also won applause for his part in the 2019 Netflix series When They See Us, the true tale of five teenagers falsely impeached of a brutal attack on a female jogger in New York’s Central Park, who was eventually absolved after spending years in prison.