Danny Payne, pictured with his family, is on life support.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Alabama man arrested after fight over handicapped parking space

An Alabama man is in custody on aggravated battery charges after a fight over a handicapped parking space left a Barrow County man on life support.

Morris Ellis was arrested Wednesday night, days after he allegedly fought with Danny Payne and his wife outside a Fatz Cafe in Winder, Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith said. 

Payne’s daughter, Sherri Fritsch, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution her parents likely kept the handicapped parking permit in the car’s console or glove box instead of driving around with it hanging from the rearview mirror. 

The man later identified as Morris couldn’t see the sticker, Fritsch said. He was aggravated when her parents took too long getting out of the car after he pulled in next to them.

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Fritsch said Morris started yelling at her mother.

“My dad said, ‘Stop cussing my wife’ and the verbal confrontation escalated,” Fritsch said. “My dad was assaulted.”

Smith said authorities believe a shoving match and a possible punch led Payne to fall backward, and he hit the back of his head.  

Payne wasn’t breathing once he was on the ground, Fritsch said, and emergency officials gave him CPR on the way to a hospital in Athens.

Currently, Payne remains on life support with a traumatic brain injury. Doctors told the family he will be on the ventilator for a while. 

“We’re in for a significant amount of time before we will even know the extent of the damage,” Fritsch said.

And she said her mother, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung damage and residual effects from her battle with breast cancer, can’t drive herself to the hospital.

“Mom is pretty emotional because with her health she relies on my dad to do everything,” Fritsch said. “They’ve been married 48 years and he does everything for her; she can’t even grocery shop on her own.”

Morris is expected to be extradited to Georgia in the coming days, Smith said. He remains in custody at the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham.

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