News Releases

June 20, 2024: Charges Declined Against USC Student Who Fatally Stabbed Man Breaking into Vehicle Outside of School Housing

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USC student Ivan Gallegos will not be charged in the death of Xavier Cerf, who allegedly broke into a vehicle outside of a USC fraternity house on June 17 

LOS ANGELES, CA - Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that USC student Ivan Gallegos, 19, will not be charged in the death of Xavier Cerf, 28, after Cerf was fatally stabbed as he allegedly broke into a vehicle outside of Gallego’s fraternity residence.

“After careful consideration and a thorough review of all available evidence, we have decided not to pursue charges against USC student Ivan Gallegos,” District Attorney Gascón said. “We believe that Mr. Gallegos’s actions were driven by a genuine fear for his life and the lives of others. Our heart goes out to the deceased’s family, friends and everyone impacted by this tragic incident.”

On June 17, at approx. 8 p.m., Cerf was captured on security video allegedly breaking into a vehicle outside of Gallegos’s USC fraternity residence. Gallegos and two other witnesses heard the vehicle’s alarm go off from inside the residence and went outside to investigate as there had been several break-ins at their house and nearby residences. Cerf was inside one of the vehicles belonging to one of Gallegos’s roommates.

As the men approached the vehicle, Gallegos was armed with a knife while another witness carried a large wooden stick. One of the witnesses called 911 to report the break-in and remained on the phone with the dispatcher. Gallegos and witnesses approached the vehicle and asked Cerf to exit. After a few seconds, Cerf opened the car and announced that he had a gun while simultaneously reaching for his waist as if he were reaching for a gun, according to Gallegos and witnesses.

As Cerf reached for his waist, Gallegos grabbed Cerf’s hands with his left hand to prevent him from pulling out the alleged gun. During the struggle, Gallegos stabbed Cerf a total of four times. Cerf walked away from the car. Gallegos and the witnesses returned to their residence and waited for officers to arrive.

The witness accounts and the independent evidence supports Mr. Gallegos’s claim that he acted with the actual and reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary to protect himself and others from the imminent threat of being shot by Cerf. The use of deadly force under these circumstances was both proportionate and objectively reasonable and would support a claim of self-defense.

The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.