The wife of a suicidal Windham man who was shot and killed by a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy last year has filed a $2 million lawsuit against police, saying her husband posed no threat to anyone other than himself when the officer “unilaterally opened fire with his rifle.”

Vicki McKenney, who watched from the back of a police cruiser as an officer shot her husband in the head, said in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland that police made no effort to de-escalate the situation or communicate with 66-year-old Stephen McKenney as he emerged from his garage on April 12 with a revolver in his hand.

The lawsuit names as defendants Deputy Nicholas Mangino, the officer who fired the fatal shot; the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office; and the Windham Police Department, whose officers were present during the shooting.

The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 5 by Vicki McKenney’s attorney, Daniel Lilley. She filed a notice of claim to the county in October as a signal that a lawsuit would likely follow.

Peter Marchesi, the lawyer representing Mangino and the sheriff’s office, held a press conference on Oct. 8, a day after Vicki McKenney filed her notice of claim, to explain Mangino’s actions and challenge some of the assertions she made.

“It is grossly inaccurate both in terms of facts that are misstated, facts that are taken out of context and most importantly facts that are omitted,” Marchesi said of the notice, which he said failed to note that McKenney had a loaded handgun and refused commands to put it down.

On Tuesday, Marchesi said he had thought that Vicki McKenney and Lilley might change their minds about suing after realizing that the case had no factual or legal merit.

“This is a terribly tragic case, where the victims are not only Mr. and Mrs. McKenney but also Nick Mangino. Unfortunately, police officers are often put in very dangerous situations by the nature of their jobs, but there are occasions they have to use force and sometimes deadly force,” Marchesi said.

Marchesi said that once Stephen McKenney refused to drop the gun, “the officers had no choice” but to fire, since neighbors and passers-by were also being endangered.


“The plan was to get Mrs. McKenney out of the house and hopefully get a tactical team to talk to Mr. McKenney to get him out of the mindset he was in,” Marchesi said. “They were extraordinarily restrained and gave him every opportunity.”

The lawsuit accuses police of nine counts, including wrongful death, excessive force, negligence for failing to protect Stephen McKenney, and intentional infliction of emotional distress on Vicki McKenney that “was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.”

Vicki McKenney called 911 before the shooting, telling police she was afraid that her husband might hurt himself. Stephen McKenney had been suffering from excruciating back pain and had been unable to get relief.

Two Windham police officers responded, as did Mangino, who was in the area. He was positioned behind his cruiser, while a civilian who was riding with him to observe police work was inside the cruiser, ducked down in the front seat.

Both sides disagree about what happened just before the shooting.

state’s attorney: FORCE JUSTIFIED

The attorney general’s office found that Mangino was justified in using deadly force, that he reasonably feared for the safety of himself or someone else and had to use deadly force to end the threat.

Several police commands for Stephen McKenney to drop the gun were recorded by cruiser cameras. He refused and waved the gun as though he was looking for something to point it at, according to investigators with the attorney general’s office. The investigators said Mangino also yelled at Stephen McKenney as he approached, telling him to drop his gun, though the investigation report says Mangino was too far from the other officers’ cruiser cameras for his warnings to be recorded.

McKenney continued to approach Mangino’s cruiser, with a .357 revolver at his side, and Mangino shot him at a range of 70 feet using a Bushmaster carbine.

Lilley says in the lawsuit that although police did tell Stephen McKenney three times to drop his gun, they made no effort to talk him down or use nonlethal methods.

WIFE wanted to call

“Mrs. McKenney had requested that she be allowed to call Mr. McKenney earlier but was denied that request by law enforcement officers,” Lilley said in the 14-page complaint. “As Mr. McKenney was walking down his driveway looking around with his handgun at his side, making no threats or threatening movements, without warning, provocation, and without making any attempt to communicate with him or de-escalate the situation, Deputy Mangino unilaterally opened fire with his rifle aimed at Mr. McKenney, firing two shots, the first striking the dirt beside the driveway and the second striking Mr. McKenney in the head, killing him.”

Lilley said in October that he is skeptical of the attorney general’s conclusions, noting that in roughly 100 uses of deadly force by police over the past 20 years, the attorney general’s office has always found the officer justified.

Lilley did not return a phone message on Tuesday seeking further comment.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan

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