The Death of Proof
Bare Witness (continued)

[Continued from page one]

proof.jpgHow did you carry on after that?
The next day I didn’t go to work. My cousin called in. She basically gave me the best legal advice: “There’s two things you do. You can either go in and tell a story, or you can say nothing at all. Homicide detectives are going to come looking for you.” I waited it out for a day. My phone is blowing up. 6 o’clock in the morning. It’s the first thing on the news, “Rapper Proof was killed along with another man and police are looking for Bizarre.” I don’t know how they got Bizarre’s name. Maybe the name Mudd sounded bizarre. Bizarre was in Atlanta. [He] ain’t even hangin’ in spots like that. That was kind of a signal, somebody’s talking to police and to media. I’m like, Damn, it’s [only] a matter of time.

I just chilled out with my cousin for a minute and I didn’t go home the first night. The second night I did come home, but I didn’t know if anybody was looking for me, so I parked around the corner and walked to my place and went in through the back door. I went to work the next day. I was just kind of waiting to see what’s going to happen.

I got a phone call from Salaam Wreck. I met Salaam through Proof, but I don’t know him like that. I know he’s the DJ for D12. He’s like, “I heard you was there.” I kind of blew him off. Then Swift calls me like, “Mudd, what happened? We talked to Horny Mack and we heard you was there. Come talk to us. We all at the studio. Em’s here and we want to talk.” After 11, I called back to the studio. I think Swift was there and Salaam Wreck. Swift’s been my man since back in the day and he’s always been a standup guy. I end up telling the story all over again.

So how did the detectives actually get in touch with you?
That next morning Proof’s cousin, Dwayne, called me and he told me about this lawyer, David Gorash, and [said] if I’m in any kind of trouble, they had my back. All of a sudden [there’s] a wrongful death suit, and muthafuckas talking about suing. I went down to the studio to talk to some of the artists from D12 and David Gorash. The rumor was Proof shot Bender in the face and Mario came over and shot and killed Proof. That ain’t the fuck what happened, but that’s what everybody’s saying. I even heard Horny Mack tell that story, from another party. And I’m like, “He was standing right there. He saw what I saw.” Everyone was asking me, “What happened to Proof’s jewelry?” He always had his jewelry when we were hanging out. His Rolex, P-chain and pinky ring. We talking a lot of jewelry that’s worth a lot of money. I was like, “I don’t know. Whoever stayed, you might want to ask them.”

Word is out, Mudd was there. People would see us together like all the time. It’s out in the street now. It wasn’t out in the news or papers yet. David Gorash asked me to talk to someone in homicide. At the time, we didn’t know ballistic-wise who shot who. We still don’t know to this day.

I went down to 1300 Beaubien [Detroit Police headquarters]. I made a statement. The detectives said they would keep it under wraps and I didn’t have to worry about my statement getting involved in the media. At the same time, they’re cops. I don’t trust them. I feel fucked up for going to cops in the first place. But here it is, I’m in a catch-22 situation. I’m worrying about people seeing me and knowing me from that spot, because the East Side of Detroit is a very small place. I am already thinking of what the consequences may be, because I’m the only one telling my story. Later, I heard there’s another person telling the story exactly how I did. They still didn’t tell me who it was. I don’t even think I met this person. I’m feeling out here by myself. I know Chop knows them and Chop ain’t going to say nothing. I heard at the time Horny Mack’s story changed so many different times so he wasn’t credible. Regardless, I was going to tell the truth. I go down there to talk to homicide and they said they wasn’t going to say shit. I go to work and people [are] still calling me. I’m blowing off cats left and right. I asked the guys from D12 and the lawyer had suggested that none of them repeat what I told them.

Tell me about the funeral.

Time goes by, the wake comes up, funeral comes up. Thyme and I spoke at the funeral. Even in the obituary it mentions us. Mama, Proof’s mother, included us in there. You don’t think about that type of shit everyday—it was an honor. The funeral was touching. I hadn’t cried like that since I was a kid. It was more so mental with me, because I was there. Horny Mack was at the funeral and we were the only people who witnessed it. It was one of those things that was just tragic and fucked up all because of nothing.

5ela1.jpg Backing up for a minute, you said you recognized Mario Etheridge from high school?
I didn’t know that I knew Mario. You know, you see people later in life and they’re grown up and they gain weight? I remember him young. I look different from high school too. I had a nose ring, dreadlocks, big hoop earrings, baggy pants. I looked in the yearbook, and low and behold, there he was. I remember him from high school. He was chubby then.

Then I found out that Proof and Keith Bender were at Osborn together. Everybody in the place knows each other from somewhere or are familiar with each other. It almost seemed like this was some high school grudge shit, as petty as it is. You start investigating more and it’s like, Damn, this shit should have never happened. Detroit’s [the] hater capitol of the world and muthafuckas wanna take shit to the next level. It escalated for nothing.

Why did you decide to tell part of the story anonymously to XXL several months ago?
I decided to do it once everything started going wrong. There’s two men tragically lost, and Bender’s family is thinking about how much money he’s going to get. Bender started the whole thing. And then Bender’s cousin started shooting. And here it is, we outnumbered. I know these muthafuckas are going to say whatever they can to keep Mario from going to jail.

Sooner or later, it was going to come out that I was there, so I might as well for Proof’s sake, for his family’s sake and for his kids’ sake. He’s got five kids. You want to take money from his children? You want to take money from his loved ones, from his mother? That’s fucked up. I felt obligated, morally. [For] someone I’ve known that long and saw him killed, I got to say something.

As far as testifying, when did they contact you?
I didn’t hear about the case until the day they subpoenaed me. Three homicide detectives came up to my job on Monday (September 18). One detective, Charles Zwicker, I recognized from the first time. He wrote the statement down. I’m calm now that I see a familiar face. He’s like, “You’re being subpoenaed. You got to appear in court tomorrow morning at 8:45.” They’re like, “You’re the last witness.”

I really couldn’t sleep that night. I got down there and walked in and the detective who subpoenaed me told me to step outside. “Look over your statement, and make sure you don’t talk to nobody.”

I step up to the stand. The prosecutor examined me and his defense cross-examined me. After I gave the testimony, Proof’s mother came in on the second half. They brought the gun out and asked me if I recognized the pistol. I knew everything about my gun, even my serial number. I told them,  “Glock 32, semi-automatic, mid-size .357 caliber.”

A guy came up to me who was on the stand when I first walked in. I knew he looked familiar. He introduced himself as L.A. “I’m the club owner,” he [said]. “Ain’t no love lost, you did the right thing.” The defense had asked me, Did I know how Proof had got to the hospital? Turns out L.A. took him to the hospital, at least that’s what he told me. He told me ain’t no love lost. He loved Proof, that was his boy and he still has the chess set Proof gave him. Proof lost a game of chess, and he had to buy him a crystal chess set. He’s like, I still got the blood-stained shirt with his blood all over it. That was my man, I loved him. You ain’t got to worry.

  • wiso

    RIP PRoof….you wont be forgotten

  • SouthWestMan

    2nd that WISO

    Peace to the family. I think Mudd done the right thing as well. Maybe someone should let Busta know whats up….

  • the one

    R.I.P Proof, you were underrated and you will be missed.

  • Woody

    Maybe if that mudd dick didnt have a gun with him proof mite still be alive. R.I.P Proof

  • G

    Thanks for the story. You can see how the media can influence you as a reader. It is good to know that Proof didn`t kill nobody, I never believed that shit.

    RIP Proof

  • Ce

    we miss u proof all that stuff seemed not necessary R.I.P we miss u all hip hop gotta live some way

  • brian

    fuck everybody who doubted proof and said all those horrible things about him..

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  • detroitnigga72

    This is the truth..this story has been on the streets from day one. i’ve known the truth from the very begginning. I did’nt have to read a newspaper or watch t.v. I always knew proof was innocent.
    hopefully that bouncer will get a re-trial, but this time on first degree murder charges. Still can’t believe people actually believed the media story.

  • ROB G

    RIP PROOF!!!!

  • R.I.P. PROOF

    Proof seemed like a great person sucks that we had to lose another amazing person in hip hop RIP PROOF …..and Mudd good lookn

  • http://xxlmag.com SUPER313

    the media love to twist shit up
    mudd is right detroit is the most critical place on the planet. it’s motherfucking haterville on everything i love my city but damn
    niggaz need to make better decisions.
    proof was very loyal to the d so we are loyal to him
    r.i.p proof

  • BIG E

    R.I.P Big PRoof! we love u n aint gonna forget u ! mudd did the right thing shout out to him

  • blacks301

    R.I.P Proof..I knew that u didnt go out the way the media potrayed you..and the other family should be ashamed if they trying to get money off this tradgey…Thanks Mudd for setting the record straight..It was needed..I cosign with Southwestman..Busta needs to wake up and stand up for someone who put they life on the line for him…

  • Chuck Teeezzy

    RIP Proof. good looks Mudd. stay up

  • Trick

    R.I.P proof

  • Fernando

    Wasnt a big fan, but definitely sad to see a successful young man go so soon. Especially over some bull shit at a club

  • Dade County 305

    i lost my BF in college & i did what mudd did.it was the right thing 2 do…it aint about snitchin,its about doing whats right 4 your dead homie.how the fuck i would look not doing whats right 4 my homie & his fam! Mudd u did the right thing…

  • Wait A Minute

    So Proof Is innocent? Dude said Proof left the fight to grab his gun. Are we to believe that Etheridge shot his own cousin AND Proof? Mudd trying to dress up his homeboys bogusness. Pulling pistols at a fist fight, maybe if he would have just took the L Bender gave him he might be alive. Shameful how yall letting this star shit blind yall, Bender had family too, what about them? Mudd Trying To clean it up like Proof was not doing drugs, where is the toxic screen of the autopsy? RIP Bender, you died with your boots on. RIP Proof, too bad you felt you had to play most hardbody in the club.

  • http://SoIguessdudesayingMariokilledhisowncousin,isthatit?LikeIsaidProofAinthavenobusinessgrabbinhishomeboygun.Thefightwasover,otherwisehowdidProofgetfreetotackleMudd?YoudisgraceBender,AUSsoldiernoles Doc Flav

    So I guess we are to believe that Mario killed his own cousin and Proof, Is that it? Proof aint have no reason to grab Mudd gun, the fight was over, otherwise Proof wouldn’t have been free to tackle Mudd and take the gun. You disgrace Bender, a US soldier, by giving this character a forum to justify his murder. Because that is what it was plain and simple.

  • Doc Flav

    He turned a fist fight into a gun battle, Mudd even stated that Mario shot the gun to break up the fight. He told Proof, “they aint trying to kill us, man.” That shit was voluntary manslaughter and all there Proof fans need to see it as it is.

  • detroitnigga72

    keith was accidentley hit in the midst of the shooting. yes mario did indeed kill his own cousin..BELIEVE IT OR NOT. you muthafuckas act like shit like this does’nt happen everyday. this ain’t no little kid thing where you just go making up. this story has been around from day one. before all the controversey. people were talking about it at the funeral and the viewing. the problem was nobody stepped up and told it to the media. the only people that stepped up were bender’s people and his cousin. they’re the ones who started all this “proof shot first” bullshit.

  • sonya

    since when did you need a gun to stop a fight? whatever happened to stepping in and trying to break it up?? I’ve been to many clubs before and that’s what the bouncers always did whenever a fight broke out. never did they ever pull out weapons.

    proof was a skinny dude; standing 5″8. and this guy mario is huge. as big as a house, and you mean to tell me his big monster ass could’nt break it up?? wow

  • warrior

    to Doc Flav :

    um actually no. mario was the one who turned it into a gun battle. as the prosecutor said, he was the one who pulled out first and shot 2 shots. he’s the one that turned the fight up a notch.

    but the fact of the matter is, it does’nt matter who did what to who. the fact of the matter is, 2 lives were lost and nothing will ever change that.

  • Georgia Slim

    SAD STORY, BUT WE WILL NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH UNLESS WE WERE THERE. RIP TO BOTH OF THEM AND PRAY FOR LESS BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE

  • alliyah1996

    The club owners ought to be the ones in jail. They effectively destroyed the crime scene, attempted to move the victims’ bodies to make it appear as though they had been shot elsewhere, and they attempted to coerce witnesses into lying to police about what they had seen. They didn’t even call the police until several hours after the shooting. Virtually all of the evidence painting Proof as a murderer is based on notoriously unreliable eyewitness testimony, mainly that of the accused, Mario Etheridge. Etheridge has a vested interest in having his version of events accepted as fact; his cousin was one of the shooting victims.

    Witnesses who disputed the “official” version of events have complained of intimidation, and at least one has since been shot. There were hundreds of people in the CCC who witnessed the shooting, very few of whom have ever been interviewed by the police.

    To my knowledge, there is little or no physical evidence stating one way or the other who shot Proof and Keith Bender; neither of the guns used in the shootings have been found. No ballistics evidence has been made known, either, so even if they did have both murder weapons, we might never know who was shot with what gun.

    I would say that the police investigation was botched, but it doesn’t even look like they did much of an investigation to begin with. I’ve said this before, but I would strongly advise Proof’s estate hire a good private investigator to help clear his name, especially in light of the pending wrongful death lawsuit brought by Keith Bender’s family. Also, if the Detroit police are incapable or unwilling of completing a thorough investigation of this crime, the case should be given to another department to solve.

  • tech9.com

    Fantastic article. It’s disappointing that Mudd and Horny Mack left Proof on the floor of the CCC. Even though there was no chance of saving him, Proof still deserved some dignity in death. Horny Mack owes it to the memory of his fallen friend to tell the truth: either he saw what happened, or he didn’t. Being unsure is fine, but changing your story or making things up – even with noble intentions – only serves to hurt our chances of finding the truth. Mudd’s account made it seem as though it was CCC patrons that moved Keith Bender’s body, without any direction from club management; this seems highly unlikely. L.A. surely must have been involved in covering up the crime scene. He had everything to lose: a fatal shooting in his club could have resulted in him being shut down for good. L.A. may have shown some compassion by driving Proof to the hospital, but for operating a dangerous establishment and tampering with the crime scene he isn’t much of a friend. Mudd is to be credited for coming forward, however.

    There are a few unanswered questions. What became of Proof’s jewelry? Did L.A. take it? Has he returned all of it? Eminem wore Proof’s chain (or one like it) at the MTV Awards, so we can assume at least it was returned. Also, if police have the gun that was allegedly used to shoot Keith Bender, why haven’t they test-fired it to get ballistics evidence, and determine who, if anyone, was shot with that gun? Surely, the police must have some/all of the slugs that were fired? And where is Mario Etheridge’s gun?

  • http://dirtythug.com Creepflow

    I know I read that Proof pistol whipped Bender,but I bet that he was pistol whipping Keith Bender and Mario Etheridge seen Proof with a gun and thought that he was going to shoot Bender right then and there so he opened fire only after firing warning shots.Regardless,Etheridge is a dumb-ass,who probably panicked and killed his cousin too.I agree with Mudd,but why did he leave Proof laying dead there like that.If that’s my homeboy who I knew since high school I would’ve grabbed my piece and held it to whoever was trying to lock the doors and make up a bullshit story that Proof was shot somewhere else.I mean ya’ll were there to see it for yourself,man,stay and make a call from somebody’s phone and get the shit right,firsthand.One.R.I.P. Proof,one of my favorites of all time.He was also chilling with my homies Twiztid that same night and was going to do some future tracks for Pyschopathic Records as well.Peace.

  • Doc Flav

    No I dont believe it, it makes no sense at all period. Ballistic report would convince me, an actual news story with an admission would convince me, his family filing the suit against Mario Instead Of Proof would convince me. You and Mudd need more people.

  • autom&proof

    ^Well im sure u don’t know Proof at all like I do. and he is not the kinda person to just up and shoot a nygga over a fuckin pool game. and i know he loved playin pool cause when u see him in the hayloft on a thursday night with his crew and my cuzin there too thats only thing they did was shoot pool, never moving from that table and to me that table was like the spot to go walk over to just see if them two were there in that lil corner.. and now that thats lost i cant even go to that bar, especially walk to that table without my heart poundin and a frog in my throat. so yea this story posted is credible shit like that happen in the Detroit everyday. anything is possible. so dont go doubtin anything. its so easy for u to believe the original story so why not this one? easier to believe Proof is a killer, than it is to believe he was killed to cover a killin? and like i said before he shot Proof so many times to the point he knew he wouldnt survive. the guy chop who is mentioned in the article is my cousin. he was murdered a month after the shooting. and its also been said his death had something to do wit Proofs murder cause of some stuff he maybe knew, im not sure, but u never know. just like its been said police accidently kill each other and kill a nygga just to blame. I’ve heard stories of people giving false info to the cops just and then being sentenced to jail for perjury. It’s all been done before so don’t act surprised. And triple c ain’t no goody goody club. that place is a death trap. this ain’t the first time a shooting has occured. things might go even deeper. whos to say he aint kill his cousin, turn around kill and blame Proof just cause he know he wouldnt be charged with murder cause it was “self defense” so then his family can do what they are now….gettin money from this shit gettin law suits media whatever don’t doubt it cause it has been done before….yeah i know thats some grimey and off the wall shit to say, but nyggas think just as grimey as i’m typin, and i watch court tv i see how scant people can be. u never kno how shyt be in the streets anything is possible out there so dont be so closed minded. people get killed down here everyday over the most dumbest shit ever. I know a dude who was shot over a piece of chicken.

  • http://XXLmag.com Westside Money aka G-unite

    Mudd didnt do the G-code aka street loyal thing but he did what had to be done on the real.Proof shouldnt have pushed his homey mudd like that and just took his gun but anyway R.I.P PROOF.

  • http://msn redrum

    Ey sh*t happens. Two young black men were lost to violence.i wish it ended in a different way, that’s life.
    i think mudd did what he could in a situation like that
    Rip proof

  • Big D

    WHEN IS BLACK PEOPLE GOING TO STOP KILLING EACH OTHER, AND GOING TO JAIL FOR NO REASON? I’M SICK OF NIGGAZ ACTING DUMB. IT’S ALWAYS OVER SOME DUMB SHIT, IT’S SAD TO SEE HIM GO DOWN LIKE THAT. NIGGAZ IS BEHAVING EXACTLY LIKE THE WHITE MAN WANT THEM TO BEHAVE, LIKE ANIMALS. WE ONLY MADE 13% OF THE POPULATION AND 90% OF PEOPLE IN JAIL ARE BLACKS. AND NIGGAZ CAN’T STILL OPEN THEIR EYES TO SEE REALITY. GREAT PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES TO GIVE US FREEDOM, AND THIS IS THE BEST WE CAN DO. IT’S SO FUCKING SAD. R.I.P PROOF.

  • dre4life

    like em said, lot of people r focusin on the way he die, but we really should remember the way he lived. i guess who shot who, the truths important to his family n the cops, but to us fans, i dont really care who killed him, cus dats not gonna brin him back, im gonna remember the way he lived. BIG PROOF FOREVER!!!!!!!

  • swerv

    It’s always fucked up when a real nigga die, we the last of a dying breed. U cant blame the nigga for grabin the heat. If you jus got it to it wit a muthafucka and the nigga bucking shots in the air, it’s beef. If you dont handle the shit a nigga gona feel like he can ho ya any time he want to and the next time em shots might be coming at ya. You gotta handle ya shit, ya dig. Yeah shit could’ve went down diffrent fake mafuckas do fake shit ats why the nigga that shot in the air didnt shoot Proof. On some real talk thou homie, if that was my nigga the nigga that shot my nigga would be dead or he would’ve had to kill me to. I ain’t gona watch my peoples get killed and not do nothin bout it. Pac said it best, “Ain’t Neva Had A Friend Like Me”. Shits real. U posed to have ya niggas back. Dude sound suspect. Is he trying to keep his self out of trouble, gain fame, or really tryin to put the real out there and let his mans ride out and rest in peace wit the respect and honor that he posed 2 pay 2 him?

  • Pac was a knucklehead

    And it’s his example that leads to people trying to be all thug and getting killed. Not hating, speaking out of love…

    Not making a judgement on Proof just speaking in general…

    R.I.P.

  • http://nil Aussie1990

    Yo Big Proof youll be missed homie

  • maruih_hash

    Doc Flav Says:

    “October 2nd, 2006 at 8:25 pm
    No I dont believe it, it makes no sense at all period. Ballistic report would convince me, an actual news story with an admission would convince me, his family filing the suit against Mario Instead Of Proof would convince me. You and Mudd need more people.”

    how does it not make any sense?? ballistics never proved the original story but you still believed it, right?

  • http://MYSPACE.COM/LEGACYHIPHOP BELIZE

    Fuck Mario..karma ill get that nucca. RIP Proof

  • Ecstasy

    Mario Etheridge need the death sentence in my opinon!

  • lowdowg

    rip proof, keep up the work Shady!

  • 300k

    fuck keef ill kill his ass before he can get that money

    • Very Reasonable Citizen

      oh you mad cause he stylin on you

  • Very Reasonable Citizen

    That 6 million was an ADVANCE. He has to pay that money back through CD sales and touring, and whatever is after is his to keep. Artists only get around 6-7 percent of album sales.

  • DeeBoe

    nobody asked you all that. stop hating from the sidelines.

  • Very Reasonable Citizen

    Y u mad doe? I’m guessing you had no idea either. Thought it was 6mil cash huh? All these people aspiring to be rappers, not knowing that their favorite rapper can go platinum and still be broke.