The campus area was highly charged in April of 1968. Drugs were rampant and the department was attempting to find ways to deal with this new and unique problem. This was before the department had an undercover unit, so these types of operations were used sparingly and when used, the officers had little training.
To try and fight the drugs on campus, it was decided that two new officers, Gary Lapides and Wendall Munn, would be sent undercover in an attempt to “meet people and buy narcotics.” This assignment turned out to be more than the two new officers bargained for, to say the least.
On April 9, Officer Lapides met with an alleged drug dealer at the Michigan Union. They left that location and went to a restaurant on S. University. There they met with two other people and one of them asked if there were any “narcs” at the table, before they smoked some marijuana. Officer Lapides later stated he simulated smoking the marijuana and afterwards, the group went to an apartment at 337 E. Jefferson.
At that location Officer Lapides bought a tin of marijuana and some speed from a dealer in the apartment. This dealer was armed with a handgun and brandished it when there was a knock on the door. At the door was “Larry”, who said he could supply large amount of drugs to undercover Officer Lapides.
Officer Lapides then left the apartment and picked up Officer Munn. When they returned, Officer Lapides went in and asked if Munn could also enter the apartment. This was allowed, but once inside both officers were searched by the four occupants. One of the subjects pointed a gun at the officers while they were searched.
Discovered on Officer Munn was a .32 caliber revolver and a notebook which had writings in it, indicating he was a police officer. The notebook was passed to the four occupants and Munn was told if he was a police officer, he would be killed.
Officer Lapides later testified that one of the suspects picked up Munn's revolver, loaded it, cocked the hammer and aimed it at him. He pulled the trigger, but it did not go off. Another person entered the apartment, took the gun, aimed it at Officer Lapides and pulled the trigger several times, but again the gun did not go off.
The four were now holding the two officers hostages as a search of Lapides also revealed that he was a police officer. Inside of his wallet, they discovered a gun permit, which had the words, “Police Officer”, written under the section for occupation.
Both officers were being screamed at, threatened with death and slapped around. They were told that they would be given an overdose of LSD, so their deaths would look like an overdose. Two of the occupants of the apartment then left to look for a large quantity of LSD, to force on the officers, while the other two held them at gunpoint. The two later returned, unable to locate any LSD.
At this point the dealers decided to retrieve the drugs that Officer Lapides had bought earlier, which he had taken to his apartment when he went to pick up Officer Munn. Officer Lapides was taken by gunpoint to get the drugs, as the kidnappers wanted to retrieve any evidence tying them to the officers.
When Officer Lapides was returned to the apartment, he and Officer Munn were forced to smoke hash. Officer Munn then feigned sleep, while Officer Lapides sat on the floor. In a bizarre turn of events, they were ordered out of the apartment and told by the kidnappers that they had “nothing on us.”
As the officers exited the apartment, there was a change of heart by the kidnappers who chased the frightened officers. The officers escaped to a near-by home, where they phoned police headquarters. The four subjects in the apartment were later arrested and charged with kidnapping.
Needless to say, this experience was not what the department had in mind when it sent the officers undercover onto campus.
Officer Cygan's Ride
Officer Richard Cygan went for an interesting ride on May 14, 1968, which started when he went to back up Officers Cook and Racine on a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle refused to identify himself when asked by Officer Racine. Officer Cygan exited his scout car to see if he could assist.
Officer Racine attempted to open the driver's door when the vehicle suddenly accelerated. Officer Cygan reached inside the car and attempted to pull the keys from the ignition. The driver, Bobby Ross, sped off with Officer Cygan being dragged by the vehicle.
Officer Cygan was dragged for 478 feet at a high rate of speed, when Ross slammed on the brakes. Officer Cygan flew from the car and landed in the road in front of 405 N. Main. His head struck the pavement, but luckily he was wearing a helmet which cracked upon impact. It was quite common for officers to wear their helmets while on patrol during this era.
Officer Cook had jumped into Officer Cygan's patrol vehicle and was chasing the suspect vehicle. He nearly ran over Officer Cygan when he was thrown from the suspect's vehicle. Ross fled to a near-by home, where he was captured. Officer Cygan was taken to the University Hospital, where he was treated for head, hand and knee injuries.