Man who tackled Rand Paul says he wasn’t thinking rationally

Author: Associated Press
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, left, R-Ky., and wife Kelley Paul listen to questions Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, during jury selection in a civil trial in Warren Circuit Court in Bowling Green, Ky. (Bac Totrong/Daily News via AP)
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, left, R-Ky., and wife Kelley Paul listen to questions Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, during jury selection in a civil trial in Warren Circuit Court in Bowling Green, Ky. (Bac Totrong/Daily News via AP)

Rand Paul’s attacker acknowledged Tuesday that he wasn’t thinking rationally when he tackled Paul while the Republican senator was doing yard work at his Kentucky home.

An apologetic Rene Boucher told a jury that he attacked Paul after watching the senator start forming a brush pile near their property line in an upscale Bowling Green subdivision.

“It was an irrational thing I did, and it’s two minutes of my life I wish I could take back,” Boucher said. “What I did was wrong.”

The day before the 2017 attack, which left Paul with several broken ribs, Boucher said he had burned another brush pile that Paul had created near the property line. Boucher said he doused that pile with gasoline and set it on fire. An explosion burned his face, neck and arms, and Boucher said he was still in severe pain the next day when he attacked Paul.

Recounting the attack, Boucher testified that he ran at Paul at about three-quarters speed.

“My left shoulder hit his ribs and broke his ribs, and for that I am very sorry,” Boucher said.

Earlier Tuesday, radiologist Sean Willgruber, who helped Paul on and off an examination table after the attack, testified that Paul was walking with a “grandmother shuffle.”

Paul needed three or four times longer to get on the table than patients routinely do, Willgruber said. He testified that “it wouldn’t be unheard of” for people who had suffered broken ribs to deal with continued pain.

In his lawsuit against Boucher, Paul is seeking up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and up to $1 million in punitive damages.

Boucher’s lawyer, Matt Baker, has conceded that a “reasonable award” might be in order for Paul’s pain and suffering but has said no punitive damages should be awarded.

Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and was sentenced to 30 days behind bars. He served most of his time at a federal prison in Illinois. He also was fined $10,000 and served 100 hours of community service. Federal prosecutors have appealed the sentence, saying 21 months of prison time would have been appropriate.

While questioning Boucher, Paul’s lawyer, Tom Kerrick, wondered whether Boucher had an obsession about his yard. Kerrick also noted that Boucher never filed a complaint with the neighborhood homeowners association about Paul’s yard maintenance. Boucher said Tuesday that he talked to the HOA president but conceded he didn’t “put anything in writing.”

Boucher testified that he had hauled away previous brush piles accumulated by Paul without asking the senator.

Boucher said he tried to talk to Paul about his lawn maintenance concerns but was rebuffed.

“He’d turn around and walk into the house and not want to acknowledge my presence,” Boucher said.

During his testimony Monday, Paul maintained that he kept any brush pile on his own property. Three neighbors who are friends of Paul and his wife testified Tuesday they were not aware of any dispute between Paul and Boucher before the attack.

Paul’s wife, Kelley, testified Tuesday that she was “utterly shocked” by the attack. She wasn’t at home at the time. When she arrived home, she said, she knew immediately he was badly hurt.

“He was shallow breathing, short of breath, dead white, blood coming out of his eye,” she said.

Asked if there had been any dispute with Boucher, she replied “no.”

“We never had any idea that he harbored any kind of hatred or rage or anger toward us at all,” she said.

Rand Paul, a former GOP presidential candidate, testified Monday that he feared for his life after suffering the surprise attack. Besides the broken ribs, Paul also later developed pneumonia.

On Tuesday, the jury visited the neighborhood to get a look at the scene of the attack.

The case could go to the jury as soon as Wednesday, attorneys said.

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