FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says a man who tackled him in his yard spoke to him afterward about why he was unhappy, but Paul said no explanation would have justified what he called an unprovoked attack.
Paul spoke about the assault with the Fox News Channel, which put a portion of the interview on its website Tuesday and aired some on its 6 p.m. newscast.
Paul said he never saw the attacker because he was facing downhill and wearing ear protection from the noise of his lawn mower. He didn’t elaborate on what the man said to him.
“After my ribs were broken, then he said things to me to try to indicate why he was unhappy, but I think the, I guess to me the bottom line is, it isn’t so important. If someone mugs you, is it really justified for any reason?” Paul said.
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Police have charged Rene Boucher, 59, with misdemeanor assault. Boucher has pleaded not guilty. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 19.
Paul suffered six broken ribs in the attack. He returned to Washington less than two weeks later but developed pneumonia when he returned to Kentucky. His interview with the Fox News Channel was the first time he commented on the attack on camera.
A retired anesthesiologist, Boucher has been Paul’s neighbor for 17 years. But Paul said he had not spoken to Boucher in 10 years. Boucher’s lawyer said the attack was prompted by “a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.”
Some neighbors have speculated the attack was motivated by a dispute over yard debris. But Paul’s office has rejected that. Paul told the Fox News Channel that ultimately, the motive does not matter.
“You don’t really know what’s in someone’s mind and so it may have some relevance, but for the most part the real question should be: Are you allowed to attack someone from behind in their yard when they are out mowing their grass? Even if you dislike something about their yard.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that this is the first time Paul has spoken on camera about the attack, not the first time he has spoken publicly.