CASTRO VALLEY -- An Alameda County Sheriff's deputy who had multiple bones in his face shattered in a brutal weekend fight was hailed Monday as a hero who likely saved the life of his partner during a violent struggle in an apartment complex hallway, authorities said.
Two men were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and a woman was arrested on suspicion of felony assault after the fight Saturday night at the complex in the 2400 block of Grove Way.
Authorities say that even after suffering brutal injuries to his face, the deputy, whom authorities are not naming, kept the injuries to his partner from being worse.
"He stayed in the fight, basically with a caved-in face, and saved his partner, who was being strangled," Alameda County Sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said. "It was a heroic act of bravery."
Both suspects were big men -- at least 200 pounds -- and trained in martial arts, police said.
That 30-year-old deputy, an eight-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, remained in the hospital Monday with several facial injuries, including a broken orbital bone. Doctors are waiting for the swelling to go down significantly before he is discharged. Eventually, the deputy will need facial reconstructive surgery, Kelly said.
"Our main concern at this point is making sure he's comfortable," Kelly said. "He's in a lot of pain."
The other deputy, a 28-year-old with six years of experience, suffered minor injuries, primarily facial cuts and bumps and bruises, Kelly said.
"Without his partner, it could've been much, much worse," Kelly said. "He was being strangled, and who knows what else might have happened."
Both deputies remained on medical leave from the Sheriff's Office, and it was not known immediately when they might return.
The three people arrested in the fight, all from Castro Valley, were identified as 22-year-old Keith Carter, 26-year-old Kelly Carter and 28-year-old Willie Tinoifili. Keith Carter and Tinoifili are expected to be charged later this week with attempted murder, and Kelly Carter is expected to be charged with felony assault.
The two deputies found Keith Carter and Tinoifili beating each other up when they arrived at the apartment around 11 p.m. Saturday and ordered both of them to get on the ground, Kelly said. The two men did not follow orders, then turned their aggression toward the deputies, he added.
The deputy who suffered the facial injuries was punched in the face and nearly knocked cold, while another man, later identified by authorities as Carter, put the second deputy in a stranglehold and tried to gouge out his eye with a finger, Kelly said. That deputy was rendered unconscious.
That's when the first deputy rejoined the fray, jumping on Carter and trying to pull him off. Police said that's when Tinoifili started kicking and punching both deputies. Kelly Carter also kicked the deputies, Kelly said.
Keith Carter eventually tried to run away but one of the deputies used a Taser to stop him. All three were arrested after backup officers arrived. Deputies did not use their guns because of the close quarters and the possibility that one of the suspects could have grabbed the gun.
Tinoifili remains at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $105,000 bail. Kelly Carter posted bail and Keith Carter was expected to be booked later Monday after being released from a hospital, Kelly said.
An investigation into what Kelly called "one of the most violent struggles that an officer can encounter" continued on Monday, and investigators are trying to determine whether the men were on drugs or alcohol, or both.
The entire fight was captured on video through the deputies' uniform cameras and investigators are reviewing the footage.
Anyone with additional information was urged to call the sheriff's office investigation line at 510-667-3636. Anonymous tips can be left at 510-667-3622.