Don Nichols was standing in front of his house on the 100 block of Glorietta Street on the near East Side Wednesday night (March 25) about to unload some groceries from his car when he was taken aback by an SAPD tactical response unit that arrived to serve a no-knock narcotic search warrant on his next-door neighbors, Vincent and Veronica Maggiano.
Nichols, a 51-year-old electrician, says at least 15 officers, a van and four pickup trucks were involved in the raid. He says they broke through the front door, shot and killed the Maggianos' two-year-old pitbull Rabbit and arrested the couple. Police found ten marijuana plants as well as some other bags of marijuana, all totaling around ten pounds. 14 grams of cocaine were also found, along with a lighting system, timer and power system for a growing operation. Veronica Maggiano, 26, was later released with Vincent, 29, receiving all the charges after telling police his wife had nothing to do with the operation. Rabbit's body still laid in the yard under a yellow cover the next day.
“I'm all for police protecting the public, but when they pull this, that's over and aboveâ?¦ it was stormtrooper tactics at its best,” said Nichols of the way the SAPD brutally shot and killed Rabbit, a dog Nichols says was known in the neighborhood as a “gentle giant,” who was so gentle that he even got along with Nichols' cats. He said that Rabbit never even had time to bark and that he knew the Maggianos as a nice, quiet couple who never bothered anybody.
Nichols says the cops left the other pitbull who was chained in the yard alone. There is a “Beware of Dog” sign on the front fence, although Nichols says that was there before the Maggianos even moved in. He hollered at the police that the dog inside was non-aggressive, but says the cops walked right past him. When the police came back out, Nichols hollered that their actions were a little aggressive.
“They said â??It's none of your damn business, you weren't inside the house.' It seemed a bit Gestapo,” said Nichols, noting that it was the first raid conducted on the street in his 18 years living there. “It seemed like they thought they were going after Dillinger, Capone and the Barker Gang all in one.”
The police report from Officer Phillip Bourcier indicates that while assigned to the Tactical Response Unit — Gang Detail, he applied for and was granted a narcotic search warrant for the house. His report claims that as police entered the residence, “the pit bull charged toward them in an aggressive manor. Fearing the pit bull may attack, they discharged their duty weapons, striking the dog.”
Veronica Maggiano says the claim that Rabbit charged toward the officers is false and that the dog was sleeping next to the couple's bed where they were watching TV, in a room adjacent to the front door.
“They just barged in and we all stood up and they shot the dog,” she said. Maggiano says she and her husband had been living in the house for about six months and had been married since 2000.
The police report notes that Vincent Maggiano admitted to intent to sell ten pounds of marijuana to someone to make a profit of $500. These quantities hardly indicate any sort of a drug kingpin, and Nichols said he wonders why so many officers were necessary to bust such a small time operation.
Louise Mendoza, a 56- year-old landscaper who has lived across the street for five years, said he'd never seen anything like it on Glorietta Street and had no idea that Vincent Maggiano sold any drugs. He came outside after hearing something he thought sounded like fireworks.
“They were ok, they didn't bother anybody. They were just good neighbors,” said Mendoza.