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Defend Thyself Personal Defense

Houston Man Claims Self-Defense in Road Rage Death

by Richard Nance   |  March 8th, 2012 19
Johnathon Darling

Johnathon Darling talks to KHOU reporters about an altercation that left a 42-year-old man dead.

According to KHOU 11 News, 28-year-old Jonathan Darling claimed he acted in self-defense during an altercation that left a man dead following a traffic collision that occurred in the 8800 block of the Gulf freeway on March 5.

Per Darling, the bumper of his vehicle collided with the bumper of another vehicle as each driver attempted to merge into the same lane.  Darling indicated that after the minor traffic collision, the driver of the other vehicle, 42-year-old Tate Welton approached and threatened him, stating “I’m going to mess you up. You messed up my day. I’m going to be late for work. We’re going to fight.”

Darling asserts that he attempted to get away from Welton and that he told his wife to call 911. However, Darling was unable to escape and Welton struck his face and head. According to Darling, Welton even went after his (Darling’s) wife and kids, who were still seated in their SUV.

During the course of the fight, Darling was knocked to the ground and Welton continued to punch him. Darling managed to get Welton in a headlock as the two struggled.

“The more he tried to get up, I held a little bit tighter”, said Darling.  Fearing that Welton would be even more enraged if he were to break free, Darling held Welton in a headlock until police arrived on scene. When police separated the two, Welton was not breathing. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he later died.

Welton’s family indicated that he too, was a quiet family man and they did not understand how such a thing could have happened. Perhaps Darling summed the incident up best when he told a reporter, “It was pointless.”

Without question, everyone has the right to defend themselves and their family with a reasonable degree of force. In some cases the use of deadly force is not only warranted but required to prevent the attacker from causing great bodily injury or death. Perhaps Darling indeed acted in self-defense. It remains to be seen whether his actions will be deemed “self-defense” or if he will be charged in Welton’s death.

Of course, Welton isn’t able to tell his side of the story. Darling’s account of the incident may be spot on. If so, his actions would seem justifiable. After all, he indicated that he tried to back away from Welton and even told his wife to summon the police. Welton initiated the confrontation and was winning. It’s easy to see how Darling would have been in fear for not only himself but for his family as well.

While I can’t speculate as to what happened in this case, as a police officer, I have dealt with my share of “road rage” incidents. In my experience, the vast majority of these situations could have been diffused had one of the involved parties kept their cool.

My humble advice is that if you find yourself in a situation such as the one described by Darling, fight like hell to protect yourself and your loved ones. Short of that, take a deep breath and consider what the situation could deteriorate to if you were to succumb to your anger.

  • Montana Cheese

    He choked him out… and didn't let him come back… manslauther

    • jamesin houston

      If he was attacked, and he was afraid for his safety, and his family's, justified homicide. Attack me, and I will attempt to disengage, attack my family, and I will kill if I can, at least fight a delaying action. In real life you do not let up.

  • R. Greyfeather

    If someone in a state of rage had become physically violent towards my family and myself, I'd have done the same thing as Darling, given the circumstances as told. If the aggressor dies while I'm defending myself, so be it. He shouldn't have attacked in the first place, it's his own fault for getting himself killed, intended or not.

  • Jeff Stanley

    That one, a jury better decide.

  • Kevin

    Had it been me, the second he threatened my family's safety, he would have been cold dead. Plain and simple. Threat or intent of injury or death is assault. The attack was bodily injury. Would not a reasonable person have acted similarly? However, I do have to pass through Houston now and again, and they drive like idiots and assholes.

  • E Zach Lee Wright

    Police compare the stories of the witnesses (assuming the children are old enough to give good information) with the father's story. Then consider how the vehicles are positioned. Could Darling have simply drove away? Who got out first? Was the other driver on his way to work or perhaps going to some other destination. The guy left alive can weave a story but he can also trip himself up if Welton was not driving to work. Additionally each driver can have his record considered, both driving but also criminal records for assault. I tend to agree with Jeff Stanley above, this is a good one for a grand jury to take a look at but good police work done quickly before the witnesses get their heads together is priceless.

    • neubauer6

      Drive away? Then he would have been charged with hit and run.

      • Karl

        Faced with obvious belligerance, I would face the hit and run charge rather than an unnecessary fight. Go somewhere nearby and call the polce.

  • Karl

    If this guy was truly on the ground and being pummeled, with witnesses, he should come out OK. (Unless the witnesses say he was the aggressor) Still, this is why avoidance is always the best plan A. No medals for this stuff. Just survival, often with a lot of pain.

  • John

    All I can say is us pepper spray.

  • Mr.Jettro

    What a Liberal website! If someone was enraged, and my family was in the car, I'd shoot to "stop the situation;" period. Your magazine and website must be run by Democratic supporters. I will never purchase your magazine or visit your website again.

  • Rachel

    Darling is NOT an innocent man. He belongs behind bars. He has been involved in arson as well as pulled a gun on several different people. Not to mention the fact that he is an alcoholic bum who treats his family like crap. Yes…I know him personally.

    • Kayla Darling

      who are you and what are you talking about really? Anyone can post things with a fake profile. If your gonna say something that you personally know please please tell me who you are so I can set you straight!

  • Darling *****

    I know Jonathan Darling personally and yes he is BAD NEWS. He is indeed bat $h!t crazy and has pulled a gun on several people in the neighborhood and needs to be put away. I dont understand this guy something is really wrong with him. He will be in the news again for killing someone else I BET MONEY ON THAT !!!!!

    • Mario Hill

      You lying piece shit!!

    • Kayla Darling

      LOL!! I know who you are. What a coward!

      • Kayla Darling

        If you run at people and say ” I’m gonna kill you ” bet your ass you will have a shotgun in your face!

  • John Darling

    hey Rachel this is John and i dont know you i dont drink work full time i think you are one of tates family talking crap but message back liar

  • Mario Hill

    I’ve know John since he was a kid!! I am black as hell and have slept at his house as well as he has slept at mine. My black family has always accepted him. He has always been passive and kind. He has always walked away from trouble!! I used to rough him up just to make him tough!! He is not a racist at all period!! Fuck anybody who thinks or says so!! He is my brother of another color and mother and ill ride for him anyday!!

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