Mario Etheridge, the 28-year-old bouncer at Detroit's CCC Club and the suspected gunman in Tuesday morning's shooting death of D12's Proof, was charged Friday afternoon (April 14) by the Wayne County, Michigan, prosecutor's office with carrying a concealed weapon and discharge of a firearm in a dwelling or occupied structure — both felonies. He has not been charged with murder. If convicted, Etheridge could face up to nine years behind bars.
"Our investigation in this case is far from over," prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. "As Gandhi said: 'An eye for an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind.' I am making a personal plea to the public to let the legal process take course. We do not want people taking the law into their own hands. The worst thing that could happen now would be to compound this situation by having any more senseless deaths" (see "D12's Proof Shot And Killed At Detroit Club").
"This is very, very ridiculous," Etheridge's attorney, Randall Upshaw, told the Detroit Free Press following the indictment. "If he discharged the weapon wrongfully and killed someone, charge him with a homicide or an assault. If he didn't discharge it wrongfully, don't charge him."
A police spokesperson told the Free Press on Wednesday that if Proof were shot by someone trying to protect himself or another individual, the person who pulled that trigger may not be charged with murder. Upshaw maintains Bender was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
|"This is a sad ending to a great career that was just getting started. He will be missed."
How have you been affected by Proof's life and death? You Tell Us.
|DeShaun 'Proof' Holton (1973-2006): A Look Back
Etheridge, who turned himself over to police Wednesday afternoon (see "Suspect In Proof Slaying Turns Himself In"), will be arraigned Saturday in Detroit's 36th District Court.
According to police, evidence indicates 32-year-old Proof (born DeShaun Holton) fired the first round in Tuesday's fatal shootout inside the CCC Club, located along East Eight Mile Road in Detroit's East Side. But before he pulled the trigger, eyewitnesses claim, Proof pistol-whipped Keith Bender Jr., who fell to the floor, at which point police claim Proof shot him in the face. Proof was then fatally shot by another man — once in the back of the head and twice in the chest.
Police believe the two men had been fighting inside the club. Proof was pronounced dead on arrival at St. John Holy Cross Hospital; Bender remains in critical condition, and on life support, at St. John Hospital and Medical Center. Bender and Etheridge are cousins, according to police.
Late Thursday night, Eminem released a statement regarding Proof's killing, breaking his silence (see "Eminem Breaks Silence On Proof; Rapper's Lawyer Denies He Shot First"); Proof had served as Em's best man in January, when the rapper remarried his high-school sweetheart, Kimberly Mathers.
On Thursday, Proof's lawyer, David Gorosh, chided Detroit's police department for suggesting his client fired first (see "Details In Proof Shooting Emerge As Police, Second Victim's Family Speak Out"). "To indicate that Proof pulled the trigger first is reckless and quite frankly it will be proved to be untrue," he said.