It took about three seconds. After three seconds and 10 well-placed shots, then-CIA contractor Raymond Davis had killed two men he believed meant him harm and sparked a diplomatic disaster between the U.S. and Pakistan that lasted more than six weeks.
But three seconds earlier, Davis’ only concern in the world was the pistol in the hand of Pakistani man on the back of a motorcycle just ahead of him in traffic.
“I’m sitting there, I’m looking to my left and I start to look back to my right as I look around and I see a gun,” Davis told SOFREP in a recent interview. “I see, the guy begins to rack the gun and I’m like, ‘Oh damn,’ so I start going for mine. So [the man’s] gun goes from out of the holster to being racked, to starting to come up.”
The 2011 incident in Lahore, Pakistan is the centerpiece of Davis’ new memoir titled “The Contractor,” where he writes that time appeared to slow down for him as he drew to fire for the first time in combat, how he’d be trained to do a million times.
“As soon as I saw the gun’s muzzle moving in my direction, I unclicked my seatbelt and started to draw the gun I was carrying in a waistband holster beneath the front of my shirt… as soon as my gun cleared the steering wheel and was aimed at my intended target, I started pressing rounds out of the chamber, squeezing them off as I would with a fully automatic weapon.
“I had never killed anyone before,” Davis writes. “Thankfully, all ten rounds I fired found their intended targets.”
To this day the intention of the two men is unclear, and Davis notes in the book they may have been thieves out to rob him or potentially members of a terrorist organization with designs to kill any American military contractor. Either way, Davis was less than sympathetic.
“Any time lives are lost it’s tragic, but I wasn’t going to lose a bit of sleep over killing these two men. Once the man on the back of the motorcycle pulled his gun and pointed it at me, he’d made his choice, just as I made a choice to defend myself,” he writes.
The Pakistanis disagreed with Davis’ logic. Davis briefly attempted to escape the crowds that gathered, but was eventually detained by Pakistani authorities.
He was held in Pakistan for 49 days and shuffled between facilities as the U.S. and Pakistani governments tried to figure a way out of the mess. U.S. officials, up to President Barack Obama, argued that Davis was a “diplomat” who should be afforded diplomatic immunity and released immediately. Despite Davis having a diplomatic passport, Pakistani officials suspected Davis was not exactly a diplomat and were loath to free him anyway amid mass protests in the streets that called for his head.
Davis was finally freed after the American government arranged a legally-binding “blood money” deal in which the families of Davis’ victims received nearly $2.4 million.
“[T]he moment I realized that I was actually being released, that it wasn’t some cruel joke, I let my guard down and allowed all the emotions I’d kept at bay — joy, shock, sadness fear — to return,” Davis writes. “And, yes, I cried. I cried like a baby.”
The book, co-written by Texas-based author Storms Reback and published late last month, flew mostly under the radar in the U.S., but kicked up a storm in Pakistan. News reports and editorials there lashed out at Davis and at former members of the Pakistani government for their purported involvement in the blood money deal.
Earlier this month a prominent Pakistani politician called for Davis’ extradition, describing Davis as a “foreign terrorist” and a “professional killer.” The politician, Zafar Ali Shah, reportedly said the blood money deal was a “national disgrace” and that Davis should return to Pakistan to face justice.
Local media also reported suspicions among some about the timing of Davis’ memoir and theorized it might be part of some larger plot against certain Pakistani officials and institutions.
Davis told SOFREP that was ridiculous. He published the book now, he said, because it took him some time to decompress, a few years to write the book and then a few years to get it through a government publication review board. Davis, who never acknowledged he was contracting for the CIA at the time of the incident, said the government censors redacted parts of his tale, which he said he understood.
“This was my personal decision to write the book and tell my side of the story,” Davis said. “This was my story and my account. It was written through my eyes.”
He said he’s still dealing with some lingering effects of the shooting now that he’s back in the U.S., living in Colorado. Some locals, he said, are suspicious of him and his capacity for violence. His case was not helped in 2011 when he was charged with assault for a parking lot altercation. (Two years later Davis pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and was ordered to take anger management classes.)
He said he wrote the book, in part, so that people would see that he was not just another “killer” and so that his son may not grow up bullied because of his father’s actions overseas.
“It was very difficult to see during Halloween, my three-year-old son standing there with a basket of candy, saying, ‘Hey Trick or Treat, come get the candy,’ and the parents wouldn’t let [the kids] come up on the lawn. They just bypassed the house,” he said. “And he’s standing there crying… How do you explain to your son, you know, all of this?”
As for the calls for his extradition in Pakistan, Davis said he’s not worried — at least not very worried.
“It would probably be nice to say I’m not concerned at all, but I’m not overly worried, if you will,” Davis told SOFREP. “The shooting, it was me doing my job.”
Featured image courtesy of AP