Bouncer's Lawyer: Proof Argued With Another Man Before Shooting

Attorney for Mario Etheridge says his client was protecting patrons of Detroit nightclub.

The man who police say fatally shot D12's Proof waived his preliminary examination Wednesday morning (April 26) on two felony firearms charges, the Detroit Free Press reports. As a result, the case is expected to head to trial in Detroit's 36th District Court, unless a plea deal is orchestrated first.

Mario Etheridge, a 28-year-old bouncer at Detroit's CCC nightclub, where the shooting occurred, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm in an occupied building (see "Proof Shooting Suspect Charged — But Not With Murder").

Witnesses told police that Etheridge shot Proof (born DeShaun Holton) three times — once in the head and twice in the chest — after the rapper pistol-whipped and then shot Etheridge's 35-year-old cousin, Keith Bender Jr. (see "Details In Proof Shooting Emerge As Police, Second Victim's Family Speak Out"). Police say the argument between Proof and Bender stemmed from a dispute over a game of pool.

Following Etheridge's court appearance, his attorney, Randall Upshaw, spoke to reporters outside the courthouse and insisted that his client prevented Proof from hurting others inside the club, the Detroit Free Press reported. Etheridge, he said, was unarmed when he showed up at the club and must have either been handed a gun or grabbed someone's gun during the fray. The attorney also said Proof was arguing with another man before turning his attention to Bender. Upshaw claimed Proof used one of his friends' guns to shoot Bender.

Proof's attorney, David Gorosh, stood nearby as Upshaw spoke to the press, shaking his head in disbelief, according to the Free Press.

"This case is far from over," Gorosh said, adding that he is awaiting additional evidence.

The Wayne County prosecutor's office is reportedly still awaiting ballistics evidence. The guns used in the shooting have not been recovered.

Etheridge, who was released from jail after posting bond, faces up to nine years in prison if convicted. He did not speak with reporters as he left the courthouse Wednesday.

Bender died one week after the April 11 shootings; he had spent that week on life support and in critical condition. His funeral is scheduled for Thursday.