A sheriff's deputy hospitalized after being kicked in the head during a run-in with a man at the Lakewood Center mall says he is making progress even though he was told he may not walk again.
In a letter dictated to his wife, Nicole, Deputy Brandon Love said "on day one of the incident, I was told it was highly possible I would never walk again. A few days out, I am making progress and my hopes are high."
On Thursday, Lakewood sheriff's officials said on their Facebook page that Love was recovering and would be moved to a rehabilitation center.
"He is in good spirits and is a true fighter, promising he will walk out of the hospital," sherff's officials wrote.
Love was injured last Friday when he and another deputy responded about 8 p.m. to a call at the mall to investigate a domestic violence report.
The other deputy was interviewing the victim while Love searched and found a man identified as Frankie Estrada.
Love was walking with Estrada, 21, of Bell Gardens, toward the other deputy, when Estrada unexpectedly turned on him, according to a Sheriff's Department statement.
Estrada hit Love several times, knocking him unconscious, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
He continued to kick and stomp on Love's neck and head, prosecutors said. A bystander tried to intervene and reportedly shoved Estrada away.
Deputies eventually subdued Estrada, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer.
He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to attempted murder, aggravated mayhem, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and misdemeanor battery, prosecutors said.
Love later learned about the bystander and created a personal video for him, which was not shared publicly. But he called the bystander his "guardian angel."
The sheriff's station is accepting donations to help Love's family pay for expenses as he recovers. They may be made to Brandon Love or the Lakewood Station Fund at the Lakewood Sheriff's Station, 5130 Clark Ave., Lakewood, CA, 90712.