David Simon opens up about the death of ‘The Wire’ star Michael K. Williams two years after his passing.
Williams, who played queer drug dealer Omar Little on the acclaimed series, died at the age of 54 of a drug overdose in September 2021. Four men were later arrested in February 2022 and charged with selling the drug-based heroin fentanyl which allegedly led to the death of Williams. .
“The Wire” co-creator Simon wrote Manhattan Judge Ronnie Abrams a three-page letter granting clemency to a defendant, Carlos Macci, who is 71 years old. For The New York TimesSimon’s letter was part of the filing on behalf of Macci by his lawyer, Benjamin Zeman. Macci, along with the other three defendants, pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of narcotics. The Manhattan probation office recommended a 10-year sentence.
However, ‘The Wire’ showrunner Simon says Macci isn’t responsible for Williams’ death.
“What happened to Mike is a painful tragedy,” wrote Simon. “But I know Michael would look at Mr. Macci’s undone and desolate life and he would know two things for sure: first, that it was Michael who bore full responsibility for what happened. No possible good can come from the incarceration of a 71-year-old, largely illiterate soul who has struggled with a life of addiction himself…as someone caught up in the addiction diaspora himself.
Simon added that Williams was “one of the best actors I’ve had the honor of collaborating with and one of the most thoughtful, kind, charitable souls I could ever call a friend.”
“I’ve never failed to see him take responsibility for himself and his decisions,” Simon continued, adding that Williams’ activism against mass incarceration and the war on drugs “convinces me that he would like me to write this letter “.
“The Wire” ran for five seasons on HBO. After the third season aired, Williams shared his drug addiction with a producer.
“Then, in order to stay on the job — which was, in effect, a stabilizing influence in his life — he readily agreed to let us help him deal with his drug use, going so far as to seek constant companionship from a crew member on whose job it was to ensure some distance between Mike and temptation,” Simon said.
“The Wire” ended in 2008. Five-time Emmy nominee Williams scored one of his last roles in “Lovecraft Country.”