The NYPD was working with Michael K. Williams on a documentary series that would explore what the future of policing would look like – showing what cops and the community can accomplish when they work hand in hand, sources familiar with the collaboration told DailyMail.com exclusively.
Williams, 54, was found unconscious and face-down in the living room of his Williamsburg apartment by his nephew on Monday afternoon and died of a suspected drug overdose.
Distraught police sources described Williams as the ‘ultimate credible messenger’ and an ideal ambassador between cops and the community, given his story growing up in the housing projects of Brooklyn and seeing first-hand how family and friends got caught up in the criminal justice system.
The sources added that Williams ‘cared deeply’ and wanted nothing more than to heal the divide between police and community through understanding and meaningful progress.
Sources tell DailyMail.com that the NYPD was working on a documentary with Michael K. Williams that was in the early development stage
The documentary series was expected to explore what the future of policing would look like, with the goal to have cops and the community work together. Williams is pictured with an NYPD officer
Williams appeared alongside his nephew Dominic Dupont in a 2018 VICE documentary titled Raised In The System. His nephew Dominic was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder at age 19
Sources added that the documentary was in the early developmental stages, with a tentative pitch and plan of action — but no footage had been shot yet.
It was also undetermined who would own the project, but Williams had a third party who could and would film it and the NYPD was on board.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed on Tuesday that he met with Williams to discuss a partnership, without divulging exactly what it was.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea confirmed the news, revealing Tuesday that he met with Williams to discuss the partnership earlier this year
‘I met Michael earlier this year. We had met and tried to collaborate on doing things with the police department with him,’ Shea told Good Day New York.
Williams was the perfect candidate for the job, having appeared in the 2018 VICE documentary Raised In The System, which examined the juvenile justice system.
Williams, who grew up in the Vanderveer public housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, explained in the documentary how he’s seen both family and close friends fall into the criminal justice system from a young age.
He appeared alongside his nephew Dominic Dupont who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder at age 19.
Williams was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and spent his childhood in the projects surrounded by drugs and violence.
As a young boy, he was sexually molested. He told The New York Times that that experience left him confused about his own sexuality and caused him to be withdrawn.
Williams eventually enrolled in New York City’s National Black Theatre, and kickstarted his career as a dancer, scoring parts in music videos by Madonna and George Michael.
On the eve of his 25th birthday, in 1991, Williams attempted to intervene when a group of muggers jumped one of his friends.
One of the attackers pulled out a blade and slashed him, leaving him with a long, distinctive scar down the front of his face and neck.
Williams said that changed the trajectory of his career.
‘Things changed immediately after that,’ Williams told NPR during a 2014 interview.
‘Directors didn’t want me just to dance in the videos any more. They wanted me to act out these thug roles, you know, like – Mike, roll these – roll these dice in this video. Have this fight in this video. I was like, all right,’ he said.
Williams was active in his New York community. In August 2020, he worked with the NYPD to help the communities and young people hardest hit by the pandemic
Williams was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and spent his childhood in the Vanderveer public housing complex projects (pictured) surrounded by drugs and violence
Williams, who is best known as the star of The Wire, was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment. He is seen above as Omar Little from The Wire
On Monday, Williams’s nephew Arvance Williams told DailyMail.com that his famous uncle was excited about jetting to Los Angeles to attend the Emmys in less than two weeks time.
He was nominated for the award for his role in last year’s HBO drama series ‘Lovecraft Country,’ for which he was a favorite to win the award.
‘I was just with him. I just bought him some fabric so he can go to the Emmys, to put under his blazer. He just got nominated for an Emmy, and he was going to LA, so he was real excited about that,’ Arvance Williams told DailyMail.com.
‘You guys know him as the actor, we know him as Uncle Mike. We love him.
‘My uncle was such a sweet person. A lot of the characters he played as mean and gangster. It was a joke, because he was totally not that way. Hw was a sweetheart. … A very gentle, gentle person. And I just look at some of the stuff he was doing [on screen] and I would just laugh because that’s totally not him.’
Neighbor Tommy Scheahr and Concierge Connie Agapie leave flowers and tributes outside of the apartment block where Williams lived in Williamsburg
The sources described Williams as the ‘ultimate credible messenger’ and an ideal ambassador between cops and the community, given his story growing up in the housing projects of Brooklyn and seeing first-hand how family and friends got caught up in the criminal justice system
Williams was best known for his role in the ‘The Wire,’ which ran from 2002 to 2008. More recently, Williams earned praise for his role in last year’s drama, ‘Lovecraft Country, for which he was a favorite to win the award.
HBO said in a statement following the news of Williams’s death, saying, ‘We are devastated to learn of the passing of Michael K. Williams, a member of the HBO family for more than 20 years.’
‘While the world is aware of his immense talents as an artist, we knew Michael as a dear friend who was beloved by all who had the privilege to work with him. We send our deepest condolences to his family for this immeasurable loss.’
Williams is survived by an adult son named Elijah.
The star was last linked to actress Tasha Smith, who last shared a snap of herself with Williams late last year.
‘He was a true original:’ Friend of Michael K. Williams says the beloved actor lived the BLM movement years before George Floyd and used his personal experiences to teach
To kids ‘who might’ve been gangbangers or addicts,’ Michael K. Williams was an inspiration, Williams’s friend and former Mount Vernon, New York Mayor Rich Thomas told DailyMail.com.
‘He was always open about being imperfect, and he wore his scars as a badge of courage,’ said Thomas, who met the beloved actor with the iconic scar in 2018.
Thomas – a black man who became mayor of a Westchester County city with a 66 percent black population – said he and Williams bonded over their shared passion on reforming the criminal justice system and steering at-risk youths away from a life of crime, especially young, black men.
‘We acted on the need to level the playing field and acted on our passion to help young people,’ Thomas said. ‘We were there to help provide a boost of inspiration to achieve and not let the past define who they are.
‘He was a true original,’ Thomas said. ‘When you think about the work he was doing – like convincing HBO to feature “Raised in the System,” which profiled injustice – at a time before George Floyd, before Breonna Taylor, before the social unrest.
‘He was already working to challenge the system, and he made changes.’
In a video shared with DailyMail.com, Williams is seen with his nephew, Dominic Dupont – who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for second-degree murder at the age of 19 – talking to a group of Mount Vernon kids about avoiding ‘the traps’ that are set for people in black communities.
Williams, who grew up in the Vanderveer public housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, has been open about fighting his personal demons of alcohol and drug addiction, growing up in the hood and how he and his family had run-ins with the criminal justice system at young ages.
‘These things are out there, y’all, and they set traps for us. But the good news is we don’t got to fall in them,’ Williams said in the 2019 video.
‘My nephew Dominic. He wasn’t out there like me. He wasn’t on drugs, he wasn’t selling drugs, didn’t have a bunch of baby mommas running around. He was in bible college when he caught that case.
‘The situation was, his twin brother – when they were 18 years – were being accosted by a group of dudes fighting over a girl. Sound familiar, young boys? Fighting over a girl.
‘Only difference was my nephew had way too much access to an illegal firearm, and he made a bad choice of bringing that illegal firearm to an already-lit situation to defend his twin brother.
‘He wasn’t out there banging. No, no, no. It was one bad choice that cost him 20 years.’
Thomas said Williams was a ‘rare breed and real man.’
‘He returned to his roots to build a bridge for young people to make it to better days,’ Thomas told DailyMail.com ‘He made it a point to vanquish the problem. And he made sure the work he did on screen reflected aspects of his life.’
Thomas remembered talk to Williams before any cameras were on, and Williams asked him about a bracelet he wore with the name ‘Shamoya McKenzie’ on it.
McKenzie was 13 years old and a rising superstar basketball player in Mount Vernon who was killed by a stray bullet on New Year’s Eve 2016.
‘He asked me call Shamoya McKenzie’s mom to express his love for her and to wish her strength amidst the storm,’ Thomas said.
‘That has humbling effects,’ Thomas said of the interaction. ‘You building up these facades to protect yourself or present yourself as stronger than you are to the world.
‘He went from the bottom to the top, and he showed it was OK to struggle and showed how to overcome.’
When Thomas heard about Williams’s untimely death, he said he was ‘hurt more than anything.’
‘Michael was a heavy loss and put me on an emotional roller coaster,’ Thomas told DailyMail.com.
‘The surprising part is that he is no longer here. That’s where there’s a reminder that life is a gift and extremely fragile.
‘Michael helped those who were misunderstood realize their magnificence.
‘While life was unfair to him, he persisted and persevered to make it fair for the less fortunate.
‘I hope his legacy of love and leadership will continue in the streets to influence decision makers to make better decisions for people.’