Sen. Rand Paul thought he might die when he found himself face-down on his lawn in November 2017, moments after his neighbor charged at him, tackled him from behind, and landed on top of him.
The blindside tackle, executed as he was standing up after hopping off his lawn mower to pick up a stick, sent Paul and the neighbor tumbling through the air roughly five to 10 feet down a slope, the Kentucky Republican testified Monday in a civil trial against his assailant, 60-year-old Rene Boucher.
The force of the landing with his neighbor on top of him broke six of Paul's ribs and punctured one of his lungs.
The injuries left Paul breathless. Another blow to his back, and he might die, Paul thought.
“At this point, I thought, ‘I can’t breathe. ... If I do nothing, this may be the last breath I ever take, because whoever is doing this isn’t stopping.’ And I really thought if I got another blow to my back, I wasn’t going to survive. And so really I did think I could die at that point. The thought crossed my mind that I may never get up from this lawn again,” Paul said.
Paul eventually found the energy to free himself from underneath Boucher. He called his wife, who was out running errands, some neighbors, and, eventually, the police.
Boucher was arrested later that night. He has already served a a 30-day prison sentence after pleading guilty to felony assault in June 2018.
Paul is seeking $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for his medical treatment and ongoing discomfort.
The senator still takes ibuprofen to manage the pain in his chest and is recovering from hernia surgery he underwent in Ontario last week.
He has resumed some athletic activities, including skiing and golfing, but he is limited in his ability to turn his body, he said, because his ribs will never be as strong as they were before the attack.
And he is at increased risk of one of his ribs puncturing internal organs if he were to fall on or receive blunt force to his chest.
“I don’t think it’s fair that I have to live with this kind of pain because somebody did something like this on purpose to me,” Paul told the jury Monday from the witness stand.
Boucher’s defense attorney, Matt Baker, suggested Monday during cross-examination that Paul was exaggerating the extent of his pain.
He asked Paul why he had never taken narcotics to treat the pain, relying exclusively on the aid of much less potent ibuprofen.
Paul answered that he did not want to risk opioid addiction.
“My thought was, ‘Do I want to take the risk of becoming addicted to something that I’m going to have to take for months and months?’” Paul said.
Baker argued that Paul had returned to his “customary lifestyle,” golfing with President Donald Trump and hitting a single in the congressional baseball game last summer.
The trial resumes Tuesday and the jury is expected to visit Paul’s yard, where the attack took place, at some point.
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