The Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy shot in the face by an East Los Angeles gang member came out of sedation Thursday after the first of several planned surgeries to reconstruct his face, an official said.
Doctors initially feared that Deputy Mohamed Ahmed, 27, would lose an eye, but sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said surgeons are still hopeful that would not be the case.
Ahmed and his training officer were on patrol Tuesday night near Floral Drive and North Brannick Avenue when they saw a car parked in a red zone.
The unidentified training officer recognized the driver as Nestor Torres, a 37-year-old parolee, and as the deputies got out of their cruiser, Torres got out of his car and fired at Ahmed, authorities said.
The training officer tried to wrestle the gun away from Torres, deflecting the weapon as it was pointed at his chest. The training officer fired at least two shots, fatally wounding Torres.
On Wednesday night, doctors performed facial reconstruction surgery on Ahmed. The deputy woke up Thursday and began communicating by writing notes, Nishida said.
The Somalia-born Ahmed, described by his supervisors as having a promising future, was in stable but critical condition. He is expected to remain hospitalized "probably for a while," Nishida said, as more facial reconstruction surgeries are performed.
"They are still trying to save his eye," Nishida said. "He hasn't lost his eye."