HENDERSON (KSNV MyNews3) -- Tonight, we're getting a clearer picture of what happened when a SWAT officer's undercover unit caught fire last week. 911 tapes that include a call from the officer himself highlight the level of danger.
According to the first 911 caller, SWAT Officer Justin Sima was driving his undercover SUV while it was nearly in flames. The $50,000 ride was destroyed. The fire got big enough for the caller to call 911 twice, concerned about it spreading. That same person accused the officer of possibly being drunk behind the wheel.
A police department spokesman told us they have no reason to believe drugs or alcohol played a role in what happened.
Officer Simo himself also called 911.
“My vehicle is on fire right now,” Simo said in the 911 call. “Something just exploded. It's a police car so there's rounds and everything in there, there's bullets in there and everything else.”
No one was hurt in the fire, although it left neighbors like Tony Berti shaken up.
“Cou can hear popping noises, big flames. The flames initially were coming out from under the hood and outside, just barely inside the cab,” Berti said. “By the time the fire department got here, almost the entire vehicle had burst into flames.”
Simo has since been suspended with pay as Henderson police conduct an internal investigation.
Simo is a Henderson Police Department veteran, who was honored by the deparment with an award for valorous conduct in 2011. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3848 in Henderson also awarded him with an Officer of the Year recognition that same year.
It's common for SWAT officers to take their vehicles home. Before the incident, the City of Henderson had 16 vehicles like Simo’s. The number of vehicles helps with response times, since SWAT officers need to be ready to roll at any time.