|Rand Paul and Rene Boucher|
Paul was getting off a riding lawn mower last Friday at his home in Bowling Green, KY, when neighbor Rene Boucher tackled him from behind, causing five broken ribs, lung bruises, and facial lacerations. Boucher is charged with misdemeanor assault, but that almost surely will be upgraded to a felony, given the severity of Paul's injuries. Ironically, both men are doctors -- Paul, an ophthalmologist, and Boucher, a anesthesiologist -- although press reports indicate neither practices medicine now.
The men have lived next door to each other for 17 years, and the assault apparently was sparked by simmering disputes over landscaping and property lines, according to reports last night. (See here and here.) From a report at The New York Times:
The violent altercation last week that left Senator Rand Paul nursing bruised lungs and broken ribs began over a landscaping dispute between the senator and his longtime next-door neighbor, according to neighbors and three Kentucky Republicans familiar with what transpired.
The precise provenance of the dispute was still a matter of disagreement on Monday. But the back story of the fracas began to come into focus and with it, the realization that Mr. Paul’s injuries could keep him from Washington, where Republicans in the Senate hold only a slim majority, for some time.
Mr. Paul had just stepped off a riding lawn mower on Friday when Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist who lived next door, charged and tackled him. Because Mr. Paul was wearing sound-muting earmuffs, he did not realize Mr. Boucher was coming, according to one of the Kentucky Republicans and a friend familiar with the altercation.
Paul's injuries are severe enough that he is having trouble breathing. It all apparently stems from landscaping issues. Reports The Times:
Mr. Paul, 54, has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood south of Bowling Green, Ky., that he calls home. The senator grows pumpkins on his property, composts and has shown little interest for neighborhood regulations.
But the spectacle of the incident — one former doctor attacking another in broad daylight — was altogether different. Competing explanations of the origins of the drama cited stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves. . . .
Neighbors said it was well known that the men had strongly divergent political views — Mr. Paul is a libertarian who identifies as a Republican; Mr. Boucher is a registered Democrat. But they said the dispute had more to do with long-simmering tensions over their adjacent properties than politics.
I can identify with much of this. Mike McGarity, our former Birmingham neighbor with an extensive criminal record, once assaulted me by hitting me in the back with a roadside sign. It left a bleeding gash on my back, which likely would have been worse except it was a fairly cool fall day and I was wearing a heavy sweatshirt. Such an assault with a "dangerous instrument," under Alabama law, is a felony. But Shelby County officials insisted on treating it as a misdemeanor, so I did not file charges. I reported on the assault in a November 2007 post:
I was the victim of a felony assault in October 2006. My troublesome neighbor, Mike McGarity, essentially stalked me and then hit me in the back with a roadside sign, leaving a bleeding abrasion. There was an eye witness to the attack.
We will go into considerable detail later on the assault itself and actual Alabama law that governs such offenses. (We also will look into how BC/BS came to hire someone with a big-time criminal record.) But for now, suffice to say that this assault clearly was a felony
Carol and I lived next door to McGarity for more than 15 years. I can recall often being concerned that, while doing yard work, I would be attacked by the loon next door -- much as Rand Paul was. In fact, I often would mow our yard while keeping one eye on the mower and the other on what might be lurking next door. As it turns out, McGarity did not assault me on my property. Here are more details from a June 2011 post:
What did I do to incur McGarity's wrath? I walked to the entrance of our neighborhood to remove signs (for-sale signs, garage-sale signs, etc.) that had been unlawfully placed in the right-of-way and were obstructing the view of drivers trying to pull onto a busy highway. I was trying to keep someone from getting hurt or possibly killed. But McGarity was having none of that.
He followed me and started putting the signs back up. When I told him why I was taking the signs down, he said, "Let's get it on, right here." I said I wasn't interested in fighting him, but the signs were going to come back down. When I turned and walked away, he swung a sign as hard as he could and hit me in the middle of the back.
Reading about the Rand Paul incident drove home the possible danger from living next door to someone who is more than a little unhinged. It also reminded me that I haven't written all that much about what McGarity did to me, especially when you consider the serious nature of any assault. McGarity's behavior was particularly creepy because he essentially stalked me -- followed me to the entrance of our neighborhood, where he had no business.
Much more about McGarity's assault on me needs to be told, and I intend to tell it. As noted previously, a woman who lived in our neighborhood was an eyewitness to the attack. I have her name and statement about what she saw, and I soon will be sharing that with Legal Schnauzer readers. It will make clear that I was, in fact, the victim of a felony assault.
That raises a number of questions, including this one: Why does a reputable company like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama have an individual who committed a felony in its employ?