Nightclub where Proof was shot to be shut for a year (Detroit Free Press article)

May 11, 2006

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FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

The C.C.C. nightclub will close and its owners must pay fines under an agreement reached with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. (April 2006 photo by HUGH GRANNUM/Detroit Free Pres)
The nightclub where Detroit rapper Proof died during a fight with an Army veteran will close its doors for a year and pay fines for illegally operating after hours under an agreement with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, officials announced Wednesday. The C.C.C. club on 8 Mile was the place where Proof, 32, a close friend of Eminem and a member of the group D12, was shot three times in the head and chest after a fight at 4:30 a.m. April 11 — more than two hours after the club was required to close. Before his death, Proof, whose given name was Deshaun Holton, shot 35-year-old Keith Bender Jr., a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, police said.

Bender died a week later at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

Prosecutor Kym Worthy sued the club’s owners in Wayne County Circuit Court last month, calling the place a nuisance and citing other violent outbreaks and liquor violations over the past two years.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled today in front of Judge William Giovan, where parties on both sides are expected to announce the settlement. The fines are expected to be set at the hearing.

Worthy explained that state law for a nuisance violation only permits closure of a building for a year.

“We got everything we could under the law, and we got it very quickly,” she said. “We have learned from the untimely death of Keith Bender and Deshaun Holton that these clubs are not only dangerous to the patrons, but present serious quality-of-life issues for the law-abiding citizens that live near them.”

Under the agreement, the club owners will pay for a lock change, turn keys over to the prosecutor’s office, maintain upkeep and keep insurance and property taxes current. The owners will be allowed to inspect the club once a month.

If the terms of the settlement aren’t met, the prosecutor’s office has the ability to ask for permanent closure.

Bender’s aunt, Leitha Etheridge-Sims, said she was disappointed that the club won’t be completely shut down.

“Perhaps someone can look at that law and make some changes,” she said. “The family is disappointed that the C.C.C. can only be shut down for a year.

“I was hoping the prosecutor would send a message by closing it indefinitely.”

Alfred Thompson, who with his wife, Helen, owns Starlight Properties LLC, which owns the club, declined comment Wednesday.

Mario Etheridge, 28, who prosecutors say shot Proof, was charged Friday with gun felonies, but not with the killing. Police say Etheridge, a bouncer at the bar and Bender’s cousin, shot Proof in defense after the rapper shot Bender in a fight over a pool game.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shootings.

Worthy said her office is aggressively investigating other illegal after-hours clubs.

“People have come forward, and we are moving as quickly as we can to get those padlocked as well,” she said.

Contact BEN SCHMITT at 313-223-4296 or bcschmitt@freepress.com.

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