What really happened with D12s Proof that tragic night in Detroits CCC Club? Fresh off the witness stand, Mudd, an old friend of Proofs spoke with Extra Large, and told it as he saw it with his own eyes.
Mudd, whose government name is Reginald Moorer, was one of three people that accompanied Deshaun “Proof” Holton to the CCC the night of his death. On the condition of anonymity, Mudd spoke to Extra Large in the July 2006 issue about what happened that tragic night at the CCC club. The investigation is still ongoing. After several months, Mudd has decided to come forward to tell the entire story about the night that went horribly wrong, resulting in the death of two men, his gun, and the testimony he gave in court this week.
Mudds friendship with Proof dates back 15 years to an Osborn High School lunch table. He was a freshman at Osborn when he met Proof, who was a senior at the time. A few years later, Mudd joined a group with Proof and another rapper, Thyme, called 5-Elementz (5ElA). The group gained notoriety around Detroit in the mid 90s. They all worked at Maurice Malones Hip Hop Shop and— with the support of Malone—moved to New York in search of a record deal. Proof ultimately left the group to join Eminem on the road. After a falling out, Proof and Mudd smoothed out their differences in 2004, and the two frequently hung out when Proof was in Detroit. Mudd raps on Proofs Searching for Jerry Garcia. Here is his story.
What was your relationship with Proof like most recently?
It was like five years of catching up on all the experiences he had been through. It was still the big brother/little brother type relationship. We had a routine: Wild Woodys on Wednesday, Tuesday was Northern Lites, Mondays we would hang at a titty bar call Jon-Jons, Saturday was the State Theater. If I wanted to see him or find him, I knew where to go. We would play pool at Bookies.
In the last few months before his death, was there anything different about Proof?
It was different. He was starting to get more focused. He had stopped all the pills and weed smoking. Before, we were deep into metaphysics. Anything that he was doing, he was fully aware of the concepts. Proof not only a very intelligent person, he was very spiritual as well.
Tell us about that night. How did it start off?
Once we started hanging, we started hanging until the sun came up. After hours was nothing out of the norm for us, we had been doing that since 95. It was a Monday night. I text him. He says, “Im at the Coliseum. Me, Horny Mack and Chop.” The Coliseum is a strip tease establishment. We at the titty bar chillin. Got the booth, drank a little, hollered at the DJ. Then we go to the Rolex, another strip tease establishment, and then we go to the CCC. I had been there numerous times before that. It was kind of a shady spot. Cats always had they pistols. We hip-hop and from Detroit, but you still got to keep strapped, because Detroit is a gangsta-ass city, and theres a lot of cats that want to play gangsta here. Certain cats get down and the East Side has the reputation for being the grimier side of town.
What happened when you went inside Triple C?
For some reason they searched everybody, but they didnt search me. I had my pistol on me, of course. We had some drinks, everybody buzzed up. It was a private establishment and it wasnt really that crowded that night. The guy that I know as Keith Bender was playing pool with Proof. Horny Mack was watching the game. I was kinda pissed there wasnt no ladies in the house. I just chilled, watched the game for a minute and went to the other side of the bar. We were getting ready to leave. We walked out the door. We saw two girls from the Rolex, one I was hollering at previously.
I go back in and I didnt get searched again. Proof started hollering at one of the girls. I started hollering at the other girl. We kickin it. Im macking, Im doing the Mudd thing. Meanwhile, to my left I see Bender and Proof having some words. They started to get a little loud. I told old girl, “Hold on for a second. Lets try to calm sh*t down.” It wasnt anything out of the ordinary for Proof to get drunk and fight. that personality, the Derrty Harry, the scrap-happy type of individual.
How was Keith Bender acting at this point?“I dont care who the f*ck you are,” thats what Bender was saying to Proof. Even with being on the cover of Rolling Stone, he still would go around to different spots and show love in the city. Of course Bender knows who he is. He went to Osborn with him—on that side of town, thats the main high school. They know each other and Im sure theyve had dialogue before this. Everybody knows somebody from somebody. At the time, I didnt notice, this was pretty much the Osborn crowd, just grown.
They in the argument, so we separate them. I remember my last words to Bender were “Calm down, it aint that serious.” He had his arms folded, leaning up against the back of the bar. Proof was talking to L.A., the owner of the club, trying to smooth the sh*t out. Thats when Keith Bender walked around me. Nobodys really watching him because we thinking the sh*t is cool.
Bender walks around me, and walks up behind Proof and punches him in the face with his right hand. Everybody starts backing up like, “Get out the way, let them fight.” There were people up there with Bender. We were all going to fight, but this discrepancy was between these two gentlemen. All of a sudden I hear some shots coming from my right side, behind me. I look up and see its Mario Etheridge shooting in the air, I guess to break up the fight.
How did you react when you heard the first shots?
Reflex-wise, I put my hand on my gun. Its already escalating and now muthaf*ckas shooting. Im going for my pistol. Proof knew I had my pistol. Proof tackles me across the room onto the pool table. As hes pushing me back. Im looking at Etheridge. Hes shooting in the air. At the same time Proofs pushing me. Im telling him, “Hes shooting in the air, dont sweat it.” Hes like, “Mudd, give me the gun.” I tell him, “He aint trying to kill us.” Proof slams me into the back of the pool table. I fall back, he pulls my pistol from my waistband. He walks across to where he was fighting with Bender and he shoots in the air, I guess answering the shots that Mario put in the air. And so with that, Bender attacks him. Theyre struggling. Im getting off the pool table because my back is f*cking killing me, so Im kind of slow reacting, getting over to the side of the room. Before I could get over there, Mario had came through and started shooting in the direction of Proof and his cousin, Keith Bender. I see them both drop. Theres smoke everywhere. Mario Etheridge leaves. Im moving people out of the way. I see Proof lying there hit, blood everywhere. Keith Bender is lying there bleeding, blood slowly running out of his head.
What happened next?
Im reaching for my phone. Its in the car. Horny Mack has the keys. Im like, “Unlock the door, let me get my phone so I can call 911.” I go get my phone, I come back in. I look and Benders body is gone. Im looking around and the back door is open. I see Proof, Im checking for the vitals. Aint none. There was this look in his eye, he wasnt there anymore. I still couldnt call 911. It was more so shock than anything. Im normally cool under pressure-type situations, but it was one of those things. We couldnt do nothing, say anything. Chop was there. He was crying. Chops looking at me like, Where are those keys? Im still looking at Proof. Chops screaming. Im like, “Who got the keys? Horny Mack?” And hes like, “I dont got the keys.” We were going to get his body out and get him to the hospital.
How were the other people in the club acting at this point?
We heard doors lock and I heard a girls voice say, “This what we gonna say yall. We gonna say Proof got shot at Coney Island .” Me hearing that, Im looking at my pistol on the ground next to Proofs left hand. I grabbed my pistol. Im thinking, Yall can say what you want to say. You already killed the man. But yall gonna leave this nigga and dump him somewhere? Im not going to live with that. I know Im gonna live and tell the story the correct way. I leave take my gun with me out the back door. Im watching to see if anybody trying to stop me. As I head up the street, Horny Mack comes walking between the side of these two houses. Im hurt and Im not walking too fast. I see Horny holding his hand. He said he was hit, he got shot in the hand. Im like, “Damn, Horny, what we gonna do?” Horny bent the corner and went back around toward the club. I went straight. I knew I wasnt going to cooperate with the story. I aint never been that cat. They want me to cooperate so aint nobody going to jail. I was like, f*ck that.
Ive never been shocked before or terrified beyond the capacity of rational thought. I couldnt remember where the f*ck I had parked my car. Im in a state of shock. I called my cousin who is a lawyer, told her, “This is what happened. It was my gun. Am I in any kind of trouble?” I aint trying to go jail. I dont want nobody to come looking for me in retaliation. I know they trying to corroborate a story. I dont know what to do.
How did you carry on after that?
The next day I didnt go to work. My cousin called in. She basically gave me the best legal advice: “Theres 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 oclock in the morning. Its the first thing on the news, “Rapper Proof was killed along with another man and police are looking for Bizarre.” I dont know how they got Bizarres name. Maybe the name Mudd sounded bizarre. Bizarre was in Atlanta. aint even hangin in spots like that. That was kind of a signal, somebodys talking to police and to media. Im like, Damn, its a matter of time.
I just chilled out with my cousin for a minute and I didnt go home the first night. The second night I did come home, but I didnt 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 whats going to happen.
I got a phone call from Salaam Wreck. I met Salaam through Proof, but I dont know him like that. I know hes the DJ for D12. Hes 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. Ems here and we want to talk.” After 11, I called back to the studio. I think Swift was there and Salaam Wreck. Swifts been my man since back in the day and hes 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 Proofs cousin, Dwayne, called me and he told me about this lawyer, David Gorash, and if Im in any kind of trouble, they had my back. All of a sudden a wrongful death suit, and muthaf*ckas 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 aint the f*ck what happened, but thats what everybodys saying. I even heard Horny Mack tell that story, from another party. And Im like, “He was standing right there. He saw what I saw.” Everyone was asking me, “What happened to Proofs jewelry?” He always had his jewelry when we were hanging out. His Rolex, P-chain and pinky ring. We talking a lot of jewelry thats worth a lot of money. I was like, “I dont know. Whoever stayed, you might want to ask them.”
Word is out, Mudd was there. People would see us together like all the time. Its out in the street now. It wasnt out in the news or papers yet. David Gorash asked me to talk to someone in homicide. At the time, we didnt know ballistic-wise who shot who. We still dont know to this day.
I went down to 1300 Beaubien . I made a statement. The detectives said they would keep it under wraps and I didnt have to worry about my statement getting involved in the media. At the same time, theyre cops. I dont trust them. I feel f*cked up for going to cops in the first place. But here it is, Im in a catch-22 situation. Im 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 Im the only one telling my story. Later, I heard theres another person telling the story exactly how I did. They still didnt tell me who it was. I dont even think I met this person. Im feeling out here by myself. I know Chop knows them and Chop aint going to say nothing. I heard at the time Horny Macks story changed so many different times so he wasnt credible. Regardless, I was going to tell the truth. I go down there to talk to homicide and they said they wasnt going to say sh*t. I go to work and people still calling me. Im 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, Proofs mother, included us in there. You dont think about that type of sh*t everyday—it was an honor. The funeral was touching. I hadnt 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 f*cked up all because of nothing.
Backing up for a minute, you said you recognized Mario Etheridge from high school?
I didnt know that I knew Mario. You know, you see people later in life and theyre 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 sh*t, as petty as it is. You start investigating more and its like, Damn, this sh*t should have never happened. Detroits hater capitol of the world and muthaf*ckas wanna take sh*t 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. Theres two men tragically lost, and Benders family is thinking about how much money hes going to get. Bender started the whole thing. And then Benders cousin started shooting. And here it is, we outnumbered. I know these muthaf*ckas 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 Proofs sake, for his familys sake and for his kids sake. Hes got five kids. You want to take money from his children? You want to take money from his loved ones, from his mother? Thats f*cked up. I felt obligated, morally. someone Ive known that long and saw him killed, I got to say something.
As far as testifying, when did they contact you?
I didnt 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. Im calm now that I see a familiar face. Hes like, “Youre being subpoenaed. You got to appear in court tomorrow morning at 8:45.” Theyre like, “Youre the last witness.”
I really couldnt 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 dont talk to nobody.”
I step up to the stand. The prosecutor examined me and his defense cross-examined me. After I gave the testimony, Proofs 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. “Im the club owner,” he . “Aint 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 thats what he told me. He told me aint 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. Hes like, I still got the blood-stained shirt with his blood all over it. That was my man, I loved him. You aint got to worry.