Spencer officer cleared in shooting death
By Jessie Burchette
The Rowan County District Attorney has cleared a Spencer police officer in the Feb. 6 shooting death of a disabled veteran and former police officer.
Bill Kenerly, district attorney, issued a statement Monday morning saying no criminal charges will be filed against Officer Preston Gene Houpe in the shooting death of Christopher Dupree Kluttz.
According to reports, Kluttz took a butcher knife and threatened Office Houpe, who could be heard over the police radio, shouting “Drop the … (inaudible).”
Houpe was unaware that his radio was transmitting during the encounter.
Houpe fired three shots, killing the 42-year-old Kluttz, a former police officer and disabled veteran of Operation Desert Storm.
Houpe had responded to a call from the Rowan County 911 Center concerning Kluttz’s welfare. He had called the National Suicide Hotline earlier that morning.
“The death of Christopher Dupree Kluttz, a former police officer and veteran, is particularly unsettling and unfortunate,” Kenerly wrote. “I have reviewed the SBI 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.”
“This is what we anticipated,” Spencer Police Chief Robert Bennett said Monday, referring to the SBI report and determination by Kenerly.
Bennett noted that when there is an officer involved in a fatal shooting, there is always some confusion. “We called the SBI to investigate, not because we did anything wrong but to verify that he (Officer Houpe) followed all the procedures.”
Houpe, a reserve officer for Spencer, was temporarily working full time when the shooting occurred. That position was subsequently filled and Houpe returned to reserve officer status.
Although Kluttz has been reported to have been a Spencer police officer in the 1980s and 1990s, Bennett said he has found no confirmation he was ever a full-time officer. “He was a reserve officer for a couple of years long before I came here,” Bennett said.
Bennett has been chief for six years.
– Read the full text of District Attorney Bill Kenerly’s statement at www.salisburypost.com