‘The Wire’ creator asks mercy for man charged in star Michael K. Williams’ death

Michael K. Williams stands on a rooftop with his back to the city while wearing a black tank top and patterned pants
‘The Wire’ star Michael K. Williams died from a fentanyl overdose in 2021. Now, the show’s creator asks for ‘mercy’ for the man charged with selling it to him.
(Jesse Dittmar / For The Times)

David Simon, the co-creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” this week has called for leniency for one of the men charged in connection to the death of the show’s star Michael K. Williams.

The Emmy-nominated actor was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse in September 2021. Carlos Macci, 71, was part of a crew that sold Williams the fentanyl-laced drugs that killed him. Macci pled guilty in April to agreeing with others to possess and distribute narcotics. Simon, however, believes Macci deserves leniency as a victim of addiction.

In a three-page letter penned as part of a filing by Macci’s lawyer on Thursday to Judge Ronnie Abrams of Federal District Court, Simon calls upon his close knowledge of Williams’ public service and the very nature of the revered show to support a case for mercy for the defendant.


“Michael would look at Mr. Macci and hope against hope that this moment in which he finds himself might prove redemptive, that his remaining years might amount to something more, and that by the grace of love and leniency, something humane and worthy might be rescued from this tragedy,” Simon wrote in the letter.

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Simon describes “The Wire,” in which Williams starred as the openly gay stickup man Omar Little, as “a careful critique of our drug prohibition and the human cost underlying those policies.” The show used each season to explore the narcotics scene in Baltimore through the eyes of law enforcers, dealers and users and the interplay with government and bureaucracy, schools and the news media.

Toward the end of Williams’ life, the “Lovecraft Country” actor was focused on organizing efforts through his organization We Build the Block, which seeks to organize youth and promote community policing in Brooklyn. He was also an advocate criminal justice reform.

“Beyond even ‘The Wire’ and its arguments, Michael’s commitment to challenging our nation’s rates of incarceration and our reliance on drug prohibition continued with his documentary work and with his engagement with ex-felons and restorative justice groups,” Simon wrote in the letter. “Singularly, among the actors we worked with on our drama, Michael took to heart themes and messages in our narrative, and for years after our production concluded, he continued to deliver that message in word and deed.”

Williams spoke to The Times shortly before his death about his struggle with drugs and alcohol. In the letter, Simon said that Williams’ work was a “stabilizing influence” in his life and the crew agreed to help him address his temptation.

Simon wrote, “I know that Michael would look upon the undone and desolate life of Mr. Maci [sic] and know two things with certainty: First, that it was Michael who bears the fuller responsibility for what happened.”


He also said that “no possible good can come from incarcerating a 71-year-old soul, largely illiterate, who has himself struggled with a lifetime of addiction and who has not engaged in street-level sales of narcotics with ambitions of success and profit but rather as someone caught up in the diaspora of addiction himself, living one day to the next and heedless of the damage done not only to others but to himself.”

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The U.S. attorney said the crimes and charges resulted from a “public health crisis.”

The court’s probation office recommended a sentence of 10 years for Macci, according to his lawyer’s court filing. Zeman’s filing also asks that Macci, who has been in jail since his arrest in February 2022, receive a sentence of time served, which would be nearly a year and a half.