Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gulf War Veteran Killed by Police After Calling VA Suicide Hotline

Posted at the Salisbury Post 

(Salisbury, N.C. - October 27, 2009) - This is the text of District Attorney Bill Kenerly's statement saying that no criminal charges would be filed against Officer Preston Gene Houpe in the shooting death of Christopher Dupree Kluttz.

"At approximately 4:30 a.m. on February 6, 2009, Christopher Dupree Kluttz died at his residence as the result of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen. On duty Spencer Police Officer Preston Gene Houpe fired the fatal shots. The Spencer Police Department and the District Attorney's office requested that the State Bureau of Investigation investigate Mr. Kluttz's death. I have reviewed the S.B.I. investigation and have concluded the evidence indicates that Officer Houpe did not violate the criminal law as it relates to the use of deadly force.

"Christopher Dupree Kluttz was a former Spencer Police Officer and a disabled veteran of Desert Storm. He lived alone at his residence in Spencer. During the early morning of February 6, 2009, Mr. Kluttz called the National Suicide Hotline, where the call taker noted that he was apparently intoxicated. At 1:55 a.m. the Veterans Administration telephoned Rowan County Communications and requested that the Spencer Police Department contact Mr. Kluttz at his residence in Spencer to investigate his welfare.

"Officer Preston Gene Houpe was the patrol officer on duty when the Veterans Administration request was received by the Spencer Police Department. Officer Houpe responded to Mr. Kluttz's residence at approximately 2:03 a.m. He entered the residence and spoke with Mr. Kluttz. Officer Houpe assessed Mr. Kluttz to be safe and left the residence at approximately 2:37 a.m. At that time Officer Houpe returned to his regularly assigned duties.

"In the course of his patrol duties Officer Houpe drove his marked Spencer Police vehicle past Mr. Kluttz's residence again at approximately 4:00 a.m. Officer Houpe stated that, as he approached the Kluttz residence in his vehicle, he saw Mr. Kluttz on the front porch of his house. Mr. Kluttz was cursing and speaking loudly, and Officer Houpe told him to "calm down". Officer Houpe followed Mr. Kluttz into the residence as Mr. Kluttz continued to curse. Inside the residence Officer Houpe talked with Mr. Kluttz, at one point suggesting that Mr. Kluttz place a telephone call to a friend. About 4:28 a.m. Mr. Kluttz placed this call. During the telephone conversation the friend heard Mr. Kluttz tell Officer Houpe to get out of his house. Mr. Kluttz then gave the telephone to Officer Houpe, who told the friend to call Mr. Kluttz's parents. The friend called Mr. Kluttz's father at approximately 4:30 a.m. and informed him of the situation. His father left his residence in route to the residence of Christopher Kluttz.

"While still in Mr. Kluttz's residence and before Mr. Kluttz's father arrived, Officer Houpe called for "routine" backup. This request was made in response to Mr. Kluttz's belligerent comments, including a threat to shoot the Officer. Officer Houpe relates that, at this point, Mr. Kluttz entered the kitchen of his residence, was heard to open a drawer, and returned armed with a butcher-type knife. Officer Houpe requested "urgent" backup, and during this call Officer Houpe can be heard to shout, "Drop the É" (inaudible, possibly "gun"). As Mr. Kluttz threatened Officer Houpe and approached him with the knife, Officer Houpe fired three shots, fatally injuring Christopher Dupree Kluttz. During an additional request for "urgent" assistance Officer Houpe can be heard telling Mr. Kluttz to "stay down". Officers of the Salisbury and Spencer Police Departments, Rowan County Deputies, and Emergency Medical personnel responded immediately and found Officer Houpe in the residence, and Mr. Kluttz deceased.

"Christopher Dupree Kluttz was found lying in the doorway that connects the dining room to the kitchen of his residence. A large chrome-bladed knife with a black plastic handle was lying on the dining room floor about four feet from Mr. Kluttz. Three .40 caliber cartridge casings were found in the dining room, and three .40 caliber bullets were recovered from Mr. Kluttz's body. The casings were fired in Officer Houpe's issue weapon; however, the recovered bullets were too distorted for a conclusive match to his pistol. A kitchen drawer and the chrome-bladed knife were examined for latent fingerprints; however, there were no identifiable latent prints noted or developed on either item. The medical examiner did not find either gun powder soot or stippling in connection with Mr. Kluttz's wounds.

"The death of Christopher Dupree Kluttz, a former police officer and veteran, is particularly unsettling and unfortunate. However, after reviewing this very thorough investigation, I have determined that no criminal charges will be filed against Officer Preston Gene Houpe for the shooting death of Christopher Dupree Kluttz."

No comments: