DETROIT – The man who police say shot and killed rapper Proof in a nightclub shootout acted lawfully in defense of another man, the county prosecutor said Tuesday.
But Mario Etheridge still will have to face weapons charges in the April 11 incident in which Etheridge's 35-year-old cousin Keith Bender also was killed.
Etheridge's lawyer has said his client fired a gun while trying to defend Bender during the April 11 fight at the CCC, an after-hours club on Detroit's Eight Mile Road.
"The evidence clearly shows that Mario Etheridge acted in lawful self-defense of another when he shot Deshaun Holton," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said at a news conference, using Proof's legal name. "Once the gunshots started, everything happened fairly quickly."
She said Etheridge shot twice at the ceiling to stop Proof — who was a member of D12 and Eminem's best friend — before aiming the gun at him.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday for Etheridge's lawyer, Randall Upshaw.
Upshaw has maintained that the 32-year-old Proof — who died with a blood alcohol level of 0.32 percent (four times the level considered drunk under Michigan law) — became belligerent during a game of pool. The man he argued with stopped to speak to him on his way out, Upshaw said, and Proof then argued with Bender and later returned with a gun, pistol-whipped Bender and shot him in the face.
Etheridge, who was working security at the club, took a gun from someone during the attack and fired it in defense of the Bender, Upshaw said.
But witnesses said Etheridge had two guns on him, Worthy said.
He earlier was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and unlawfully discharging a firearm in a building. Worthy said those charges would stand.
Etheridge's final pretrial court date is scheduled for Friday. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison on the concealed weapon charge and four years on the discharging a firearm count.