Matthew Perry: Los Angeles police launch investigation into actor’s death

matthew perry: los angeles police launch investigation into actor’s death

Matthew Perry in 2015. Photograph: Rich Fury/Invision/AP

Half a year after the death of Matthew Perry from acute effects of anesthetic ketamine, the Los Angeles police department (LAPD) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have launched a joint criminal investigation looking into how the Friends star got the prescription medication, law enforcement sources confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

Perry died at the age of 54 on 28 October 2023 in a hot tub at his Pacific Palisades home. Trace amounts of ketamine, which is sometimes used to treat depression, were found in his stomach, according to the Los Angeles medical examiner.

However, an autopsy found levels of ketamine in his blood similar to levels used during general anesthesia. “At the high levels of ketamine found in his postmortem blood specimens, the main lethal effects would be from both cardiovascular overstimulation and respiratory depression,” the autopsy report stated.

The autopsy also identified drowning, coronary artery disease and buprenorphine – a drug used to treat opioid addiction, about which Perry discussed openly in interviews and his 2022 memoir – as contributing factors in his death. It was ruled an accident, with no evidence of foul play.

The LAPD and DEA, however, are now looking into how the actor came to possess high levels of ketamine, in his system and in general. TMZ was the first to report the investigation, which is primarily concerned with who provided the drug, and under what circumstances.

According to the medical examiner, Perry was undergoing ketamine infusion therapy for anxiety and depression in the days before his death. His last known infusion was a week and a half prior, meaning the ketamine found in his system in the autopsy was not from the procedure.

In his 2022 memoir Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing, Perry discussed his long history with substance abuse, beginning at the age of 14 and intensifying with the huge spotlight while on Friends, which ran on NBC from 1994 until 2004. At one point, he wrote, he was consuming up to five dozen pills a day. He was 19 months sober at the time of his death, according to the medical examiner, who noted that he had no other drugs in his system and that no drugs or drug paraphernalia were found at his house.

The medical examiner also noted that the beloved actor, who once had a two-packs-a-day cigarette habit, suffered from diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a group of diseases that can cause airflow blockage and breathing issues.

This is not the first time the federal agents have got involved in a drug-related celebrity death. Following the fatal accidental overdose of Mac Miller in 2018, police arrested and charged Ryan Michael Reavis for selling the rapper counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills. He was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison in April 2022.

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