While mowing the lawn in front of his Bowling Green house last Friday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was tackled at full speed from behind by his next door neighbor, Rene Boucher. Initially Paul said his injuries were minor, and local police charged Boucher with misdemeanor “assault in the 4th degree, minor injury,” punishable by up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.
But Paul was later diagnosed with five fractured ribs, three of them displaced, with recovery likely to take weeks if not months. As jailer Stephen Harmon told Fox News on Monday, “Other charges [against Boucher] may be pending.”
Not only did Boucher’s blindside hit on Paul catch him by surprise, it also caught some neighbors and friends by surprise as well. They knew they were political opposites — Boucher a socialist and Paul a constitutionalist — but living next door to each other, they often walked their dogs together, said Jim Skaggs, a member of Kentucky’s Republican Party executive committee. He added:
There were as far left and right as you can be [but] we heard of no friction whatsoever other than they just [had a] difference of opinion. Both of them walked their little dogs about a mile and a half circle, a nice little dog trot. I’d see them walking, maybe they might stop and speak with each other.
Jim Bullington, a former member of Bowling Green’s city commission who knows both men well, described Boucher as a divorced vocal anti-Trump socialist who is “pretty much the opposite of Rand Paul in every way.” They would often engage in political discussions, which got heated from time to time, according to Bullington.
Other than the fact that Boucher is also a registered Democrat with strong opinions on national healthcare, no one is yet able to come up with a specific motive for the attack.
Paul’s injuries, however, may give Boucher additional time to consider his behavior. Doug Stafford, a senior advisor to Paul, told Fox News that “this type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force," adding that “displaced rib fractures can lead to life-threatening injuries such as hemopneumothorax [short for blood accumulating in the membrane surrounding the lungs], pneumothorax [a collection of air or gas in the chest or pleural space that causes part or all of a lung to collapse], pneumonia, internal bleeding, laceration of internal organs and lung contusions. Senator Paul does have lung contusions currently.”
The original complaint filed by Paul against Boucher said that his neighbor came onto his property and tackled him from behind, knocking him to the ground. He reported that he had trouble breathing because of a rib injury.
There is a Kentucky statute that considers an assault such as this a felony if there is serious physical injury. To add to Boucher’s concerns, both the Kentucky State Police and the FBI are investigating as to whether Paul’s injuries are severe enough to charge Boucher with felonious assault. Boucher has a court date on Thursday, where he will likely learn whether Paul’s injuries warrant such an upgrade.
For his part, Paul says he’s doing just fine. He’s a little sore, but he plans to be back in Washington in a few days. Paul's bill of health should give some comfort to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, also from Kentucky, as the Senate has a full agenda regarding tax reform, and Paul’s vote, either way, could be crucial to its passage.
From this writer’s personal experience, Senator Paul is going to be in considerable pain for some period of time. If charges against Boucher are upgraded from misdemeanor to felony, Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist, will suffer a much different and more costly type of pain.
Photo of Rand Paul: Rand Paul press kit