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Lawyer For Rand Paul's Neighbor Says 'Trivial' Dispute Led To Assault

Days after Sen. Rand Paul suffered five broken ribs, the lawyer for the man who has been charged with assaulting Paul says that politics are not involved — and that it was a case of "a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial."

The new details shed light on an attack on Paul in which he was reportedly tackled from behind while he was mowing the yard at his home in Bowling Green, Ky., on Friday afternoon. After police were called, officers arrested Paul's neighbor, retired anesthesiologist Rene Boucher, setting off widespread speculation over what might have motivated the incident.

Boucher, a Democrat, has lived next door to Paul, a Republican, for 17 years, Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, said in a statement to member station WKU Public Radio. Here's more from Baker:

"The unfortunate occurrence of November 3rd has absolutely nothing to do with either's politics or political agendas. It was a very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial. We sincerely hope that Senator Paul is doing well and that these two gentlemen can get back to being neighbors as quickly as possible."

Paul's senior adviser, Doug Stafford, has said that the injuries to the Kentucky Republican are painful and can be dangerous. It's not known when the senator might be able to travel or return to work in Congress.

In an interview with local news WBKO Channel 13, Baker said, "It was absolutely not planned out beforehand."

He added, "It's just a disagreement — a long-standing disagreement between two neighbors."

The dispute may have its roots in the senator's yard. Citing neighbors and local Republicans, The New York Times says that Paul "has long stood out in the well-to-do gated neighborhood," handling his yard according to his own ideas — the Times mentions pumpkins and compost — rather than following neighborhood rules.

The Times also says that Paul's associates say he was set upon as he was getting off his riding mower. At the time, he was wearing ear protectors that kept him from hearing any sign of the impending attack, they say.

As we reported on Monday:

"Paul and Boucher live in a neighborhood in Warren County east of Bowling Green's center, in an area where large houses sit on green lots. According to online records from the county jail, Boucher was released on a $7,500 bond on Saturday after spending nearly 24 hours in the facility. He faces a court date on Thursday."

Paul has not commented publicly on the incident, other than to issue a tweet saying, "Kelley and I appreciate the overwhelming support after Friday's unfortunate event. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers."

In addition to being neighbors, Baker said that Paul, who had a career as an ophthalmologist before going into politics full time, had worked with Boucher when both of them were practicing medicine.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.