World

Rand Paul neighbour is said to regret incident that led to senator's broken ribs

An assault of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul by a longtime next-door neighbour was not motivated by political differences but by a dispute "most people would find trivial," an attorney for the man charged in the attack said Monday.

Rene Boucher, accused of assault, has been neighbour with Kentucky senator for 17 years

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was mowing his lawn at the time of an incident which has left him with broken ribs, according to a friend. (Bryan Woolston/Associated Press)

An assault of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul by a longtime next-door neighbour was not motivated by political differences but by a dispute "most people would find trivial," an attorney for the man charged in the attack said Monday.

Attorney Matt Baker did not say what dispute prompted the attack that stunned the Bowling Green, Kentucky, community and left Paul, 54, with five broken ribs.

Police charged 59-year-old Rene Boucher with misdemeanour fourth-degree assault with a minor injury. Records show he was released from jail on Saturday on a $7,500 US bond. He has not returned multiple calls seeking comment.

Boucher and Paul have been neighbours for 17 years, the attorney said. Paul is an ophthalmologist and Boucher is an anesthesiologist. Baker called them "both prominent members of the medical community" who "worked together when they were both practising physicians."
This photo provided by the Warren County Regional Jail shows Rene Boucher, who has been arrested and charged with assaulting and injuring Paul. (Warren County Regional Jail via AP)

"The unfortunate occurrence of Nov. 3 has absolutely nothing to do with either's politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbours over a matter that most people would regard as trivial," Baker said in an email to the Associated Press. "We sincerely hope that Sen. Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbours as quickly as possible."

Baker said in an interview later, "This is just a profoundly unfortunate set of circumstances that I'm sure that if everyone had it to do over again, it would be done completely differently." He declined to say what might have triggered the incident, adding he thinks he has a "pretty good idea."

"I'd like to do my due diligence before I'm any more specific," Baker said.

Doug Stafford, Paul's senior adviser, called the case a "serious criminal matter involving state and federal authorities." He has said the attack could potentially lead to "life-threatening injuries."

State police asked at least one reporter to leave the gated neighbourhood Monday afternoon.

A friend of Paul's told the Washington Post that the senator was mowing his lawn at the time of the attack. According to an arrest warrant, Paul told police Boucher came onto his property and tackled him from behind, forcing him to the ground.

Stafford said Paul's injuries were caused by "high velocity severe force." He said it's unclear when Paul could return to work. He said Paul is in considerable pain and having trouble getting around.

Baker said Boucher didn't suffer any injuries.

Paul's absence from the Senate creates another challenge for a slim Republican majority that's caused heartburn for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. On Monday, McConnell wished his fellow Kentuckian a speedy recovery and said the GOP "need all hands on deck, all the time."

Paul in April 2015 launched a bid for president that ended in February of the following year.