USC student won't face charges in fatal stabbing of homeless man on Greek Row

Ivan Gallegos, the University of Southern California student accused of stabbing a homeless man to death, appeared in court Thursday. During his arraignment, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file any charges against him. 

"After careful consideration and a thorough review of all available evidence, we have decided not to pursue charges against USC student Ivan Gallegos. 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," LA County DA George Gascón said in a statement. 

On the evening of Monday, June 17, the Los Angeles Police Department received a call after Gallegos and two of his peers reportedly witnessed a homeless man attempting to break into multiple cars along Greek Row. 

According to the DA's office, the three students heard a vehicle’s alarm go off from inside their home and went outside to investigate. That's when they found 27-year-old Xavier Cerf inside one of the vehicles belonging to one of Gallegos’s roommates.

The students approached the vehicle and asked Cerf to exit. Cerf then opened the door and announced that he had a gun while attempting to reach for his waist, the DA's office said in a statement. 

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 four times. Cerf walked away from the car. 

The students then waited for officers to arrive. 


Investigators said Cerf ended up in the walkway between two fraternity houses in the 700 block of W. 28th Street in Los Angeles' University Park neighborhood where he collapsed. He was declared dead at the scene when first responders arrived. 

Cerf's mom, who is in Texas, set up a GoFundMe account to help bring the body of her son home. She said he has a 3-year-old son. 

Gallegos was arrested on suspicion of murder and his bail was set at $2 million. He was released from jail Thursday. 

"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 DA's office stated. 

Gallegos was profiled by Annenberg Media, a student-run platform. The story highlighted how the East LA native is a first-generation Latino student studying at USC’s Marshall School of Business. In addition, he has a passion for music and philanthropy. 

Gallegos has no criminal record.