Windham’s police chief said Wednesday that an armed man who was fatally shot Saturday by a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy in Windham was moving his gun around just before the shooting and appeared to be looking for something or someone to fire at. That account contradicts the description given by the man’s wife.
On Tuesday, the wife of Stephen McKenney told her lawyer that McKenney’s hands were at his sides when he was shot. Vicki McKenney said she was sitting in a Windham police cruiser about 75 yards away when the shooting occurred.
Ultimately, video from police cruisers may show which account is accurate. Windham Police Chief Richard Lewsen said all Windham cruisers have cameras, and that video from the incident has been forwarded to the state Attorney General’s Office, which must investigate all uses of deadly force by police.
The Portland Press Herald has requested copies of the cruiser camera videos taken at the scene Saturday morning. Lewsen has not formally responded to the request, but he said Wednesday that such records are typically considered exempt from public disclosure requirements because they are part of an active investigation.
McKenney, 66, was shot in the head at the end of his driveway at 2 Searsport Way. His wife had called police to say she feared her husband was suicidal.
When officers arrived and removed her from the house, they asked if he had guns inside. She said that he was a collector and did have guns in the house. The only one he kept loaded was a .357 magnum revolver, said Vicki McKenney’s Portland-based attorney, Daniel Lilley.
The Press Herald also has requested a transcript of Vicki McKenney’s 911 call. Officials from the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center said they are having their attorney review the request.
Deputy Nicholas Mangino, 25, who fired two shots, one of which hit McKenney, is on paid leave while the Attorney General’s Office investigates the case. The office will try to determine precisely what happened and whether Mangino was justified in using deadly force. That can take 30 to 90 days.
To be justified in using deadly force, an officer must reasonably believe that he or she, or another party, faces immediate danger of serious injury or death, and that deadly force is necessary to end the threat.
Maine attorneys general have investigated 114 deadly force incidents since 1990. In every case, the use of deadly force has been found to be justified.
Vicki McKenney told Lilley that she watched from a police cruiser as her husband left their garage and walked down the driveway. She said his hands never left his sides until he was shot, Lilley said. She said she did not see him holding a gun.
Lewsen said that isn’t what he was told by subordinates who were at the scene.
“He was pointing (the gun) in different directions and he seemed to be trying to acquire a target, but there were no targets,” Lewsen said.
Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce has said that officers sought cover and concealment after arriving at the house.
Lilley said he believes it would be hard to know whether someone is trying to locate targets.
“That requires a great deal of insight as to what was in the guy’s mind,” Lilley said. “Searching for targets – my crystal ball doesn’t go that far. … I want to reserve judgment until I can see the video.”
Lilley said he plans to try to obtain a copy of the cruiser camera video before the attorney general’s investigation is complete. “Then we don’t have to have all this speculation,” he said.
Lilley conceded that there may be legitimate differences of opinion about what happened.
“Everybody is looking at the same thing, but there are different angles,” he said. “There’s an old saying ‘Are you seeing what you believe or believing what you see?’ That’s something I’ve found, unfortunately, prevalent on both sides.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: