A Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputy had no choice but to shoot the Windham man who approached him and his cruiser with a loaded handgun, his attorney said at a news conference Wednesday morning.

Deputy Nicholas Mangino shot and killed Stephen McKenney, 66, on April 12.

Peter Marchesi, the lawyer representing Mangino and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, held a press conference at the sheriff’s office Wednesday to explain Mangino’s actions and to challenge some of the assertions made in a notice of claim filed by McKenney’s widow.

Vicki McKenney on Tuesday filed the notice of claim against Mangino, the county and the Windham Police Department indicating that she plans to bring a lawsuit saying Mangino intentionally and wrongfully caused her husband’s death.

“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. The claim fails to note McKenney was armed with a loaded handgun and refused commands to put it down, he said.

Marchesi said an unarmed civilian friend who was crouched in the front seat of the cruiser may have affected the deputy’s sense of urgency about the situation, but ultimately did not change the outcome.

Marchesi was flanked by Sheriff Kevin Joyce, County Manager Peter Creighton and several uniformed supervisors in the department, though they did not speak. Mangino has returned to duty but was not at the news conference. He is currently on leave to participate in National Guard training, Marchesi said.

Vicki McKenney’s attorney, Daniel G. Lilley, filed a notice of claim saying Mangino intentionally deprived Stephen McKenney of his constitutional rights and caused him and his wife pain and suffering totaling at least $2 million in damages.

Lilley said Tuesday that McKenney posed no threat at the time he was shot and there is no proof that in the several minutes immediately preceding the shooting there was any effort to get him to drop his gun. McKenney was on his own property, has no criminal record, had a gun that he was legally allowed to possess and didn’t threaten anyone, Lilley said.

At the news conference, Marchesi offered what he described as an “unvarnished” description of events.

According to Marchesi, when officers first encountered McKenney inside his house and learned he was armed with a handgun, it was Mangino who said the officers should retreat. Police were calling for a tactical team and a negotiator in hopes of resolving the situation without violence.

But when McKenney came outside, cocked his .357 Magnum and, according to Marchesi, pointed it toward Mangino, the circumstances changed.

McKenney walked down his driveway toward Mangino, who was crouched behind his cruiser. McKenney had the gun at his side and was not pointing it, according to the Attorney General’s report on the incident.

Inside the cruiser, ducking down in the front passenger seat, was an unarmed civilian, a friend of Mangino’s who was a fellow National Guardsman. He had been riding with Mangino to learn about law enforcement work.

Mangino told the civilian repeatedly that he hoped he would not have to shoot McKenney, Marchesi said.

When McKenney got within 70 feet, Mangino ordered him to drop his gun, then fired a single shot from his Bushmaster carbine, according to Marchesi and the Attorney General’s report. That shot missed, so he fired another, this time hitting and killing McKenney.

“If there’s anything he did wrong, he let Mr. McKenney get too close to him,” Marchesi said. Had Mangino not shot McKenney when he did, “the obvious possible consequence is Mr. McKenney would have fired his weapon and either injured or killed Deputy Mangino or the civilian in his cruiser.”

Mangino also was a victim in the case, the attorney said. “Mangino will carry this with him for a long time,” Marchesi said.

Marchesi said he is confident that if a lawsuit is filed, it will be dismissed before it goes to trial.

“We ask our law enforcement officers to protect us, to protect our neighborhoods, protect our communities,” said Marchesi. “In certain instances, they have no choice but to use deadly force.”

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office found Mangino was justified in using deadly force because he believed his life or someone else’s was in danger and he needed to use deadly force to stop that threat.

Lilley said 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 said he only served notice on the county because his efforts to interview officers to determine whether there was a strong case were met with a refusal to meet with him. He said without cooperation from the county, he will have to subpoena and depose the participants in the shooting.