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Actor Michael K. Williams died of accidental overdose that included fentanyl, cocaine

Synthetic opioids fentanyl and p-fluorofentanyl were blamed by the New York City medical examiner, in part, for the 54-year-old's death.
/ Source: NBC News

The actor Michael K. Williams died of an accidental overdose that included the synthetic opioids fentanyl and p-fluorofentanyl, the New York City medical examiner's office said Friday.

Williams, whose work on HBO's "The Wire" and "Boardwalk Empire" was widely praised, died Sept. 6 at age 54. He had been open about his struggles with drug use.

a close shot on Michael K. Williams who is looking at the camera over his shoulder in a blue button down shirt and black suit coat
Michael K. Williams attends the 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on March 31, 2021, in Miami.Rodrigo Varela / Getty Images

The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner said Williams had in his system cocaine and heroin, as well as the synthetic opioids. Fentanyl can be 50 times more potent than heroin, although some heroin users seek it out for just that reason.

A short statement from the medical examiner's office read: "Cause of death: Acute intoxication by the combined effects of fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine. Manner of death: Accident."

Fentanyl and opioids have been blamed for the record number of overdose deaths in the United States last year— more than 93,000.

Williams, a five-time Emmy Awards nominee, talked about his issues with drug use and getting clean in a 2012 interview with Inside Jersey magazine. "'Why me? Why did I get spared?' I should've been dead," he said.

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