U.S. Sen. Rand Paul testified Monday that he feared for his life after being hit by a blindside tackle from a neighbor, who broke several of his ribs while he was doing yard work at his Kentucky home.
The Republican senator was the first witness in the trial on his lawsuit against attacker Rene Boucher.
In recounting the 2017 attack, Paul said he got off his riding mower to pick up a stick and was straightening up when Boucher hit him with such force that both flew through the air 5 or 10 feet (1.5 to 3 meters).
For a moment, Paul said, he had a flashback to the 2017 shooting at a baseball field when members of Congress were practicing for a game. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana suffered serious injuries in that shooting. Paul said he had so much trouble breathing that he feared "this may be the last breath I ever take."
Paul was able to pull his attacker off him, and he said that's when he realized the assailant was his neighbor.
Paul, who ran for president in 2016 and is now in his second Senate term, is suing Boucher for damages stemming from the attack — seeking up to $500,000 in compensatory damages and up to $1 million in punitive damages.
Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and was sentenced to 30 days behind bars. Federal prosecutors have appealed the sentence, saying 21 months would have been appropriate.
Boucher has said the attack had nothing to do with politics but was triggered by a dispute over lawn maintenance. He said he "lost his temper" because Paul stacked debris near their property line in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Earlier Monday, lawyers chose 12 jurors and two alternates to hear the case. Special Judge Tyler Gill said the trial could last through this week.
Paul's lawyer, Tom Kerrick, asked prospective jurors if any had an issue with something Paul supported or didn't support that could make it difficult for them to render an impartial verdict. There was silence from the jury pool.
Boucher's lawyer, Matt Baker, has said previously that he expects Boucher will testify during the trial.
Gill told prospective jurors "we're not here about anyone's political beliefs."