PORTLAND – A federal judge this week ruled in favor of the town of Windham, releasing it from a civil suit stemming from a 2014 police shooting that killed an armed Windham man acting erratically at his home.
Windham Police officers were on the scene during the April 2014 incident, but it was Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Sheriff Nicholas Mangino who fired two shots, one of which killed Stephen McKenney, 66, in his driveway on Searsport Way.
U.S. District Court Judge Jon D. Levy on Wednesday granted Windham’s motion for a summary judgment to dismiss the case against the town. Levy’s judgment essentially found that the undisputed facts of the case did not warrant the town being included in the lawsuit moving forward.
“There is no factual basis in the record for finding that any of the Windham officers used excessive or unreasonable force against Stephen,” according to the ruling, which notes that the only Windham officer to use force against McKenney did so after he was shot by removing the gun from his hand and handcuffing him.
Portland-based attorney Ed Benjamin and his associate Kasia Park represented the town of Windham in the case. He said by phone that he was pleased with the judge’s decision.
McKenney’s wife, Vicki, filed the civil complaint seeking damages against the town, the Sheriff’s Office and Mangino because of the incident.
While the judge’s order releases the town from the ongoing civil lawsuit, some of the claims against the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Mangino were not dismissed.
According to court documents, Vicki McKenney called police that morning in 2014 saying that her husband had become increasingly physical and aggressive and that he wanted to kill himself. She also told police that her husband had “snapped” that morning after months of dealing with significant back pain.
Windham officers James Cook and Seth Fournier arrived on scene first, and were quickly joined by Mangino. After meeting Mrs. McKenney in the driveway, the three men entered the home where they found her husband holding an object that he identified to police as a .357 magnum handgun. He never pointed the gun at any of the officers inside the house, according to the court documents.
After McKenney refused to drop the gun, the officers and deputy went outside. Minutes later, McKenney exited the house and eventually started walking around the driveway and garage area. At one point, McKenney raised his gun up into the air, according to the court documents, and Mangino says he believed McKenney was pointing the gun at him.
Approximately six minutes later, McKenney began to walk down the driveway in Mangino’s direction. Mangino eventually fired two shots when McKenney was about 7o feet away, one of which struck McKenney in the head.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills concluded in August 2014 that Mangino’s use of deadly force was reasonable to protect himself and others from the threat posed by McKinney’s weapon. However, that report stated that it did “not include an analysis of potential civil liability.”