The family of 35-year-old Army veteran Keith Bender have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of rapper Proof, who police say shot Bender before he was killed.
Proof, whose real name was Deshaun Holton, died April 11, the day of the early morning gun battle at the CCC nightclub. Bender was hospitalized in critical condition and died a week later.
Proof “violently assaulted and battered [Bender], culminating with the infliction of a gunshot injury that caused the death of Mr. Bender,” according to the lawsuit filed Monday by Bender’s wife, Jacqueline, and his mother, Leona.
A message seeking comment was left for Proof’s lawyer, David Gorosh.
Police have said Bender’s cousin, Mario Etheridge, who helped with security at the club, shot Proof. Etheridge has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a firearm in a building in the incident.
Etheridge’s lawyer, Randall Upshaw, said last week that Proof was drunk and angry about a game of pool when he approached Bender at the club. The two argued and were separated, and Proof returned with a gun, pistol-whipped Bender and then shot him in the face, Upshaw said.
“It is shameful that Mr. Holton is being lauded as a hero and martyr, when, in fact, it was his own criminalistic conduct that not only led to his death, but took the life of an honorable, innocent man,” Michael Cafferty, a lawyer for Bender’s family, said in a statement.