USC student who allegedly killed car burglar won’t face capital charges, DA says

A USC student accused by police of fatally stabbing a man who broke into a car on Greek Row will not be charged in the killing, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Ivan Gallegos, 19, was being held on $2 million bail after Los Angeles police said he and two others confronted Xavier Cerf, 27, as he broke into a car, and Gallegos pulled out a knife and fatally stabbed him.

“After careful consideration and review of all available evidence, we have decided not to pursue charges against … Gallegos. We believe Mr. Gallegos’ actions were motivated by genuine fear for his life and the lives of others,” Dist. Atty. George Gascon said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the family, friends and everyone affected by this tragic incident.”

The confrontation took place shortly after 8 p.m. Monday in the 700 block of West 28th Street, police said. Gallegos remained at the scene after the assault, cooperated with investigators and was later arrested, according to police. The two other men who accompanied him were questioned and released.

Police said they found Cerf in a nearby alley suffering from stab wounds and when paramedics arrived he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dmitry Gorin, a Los Angeles defense attorney and former prosecutor, said Thursday that for the prosecutor not to bring charges, he would have to conclude that “the use of deadly force was reasonable based on all the facts and circumstances mentioned in police reports. “

The evidence “demonstrated that the accused was acting in self-defense and, therefore, the homicide was legally justified,” he added.

In a GoFundMe campaign created to support Gallegos, his mother Violet claims her son was acting in self-defense when he stabbed Cerf. Gallegos found himself in this situation “due to the lack of security measures around his campus,” according to the post.

Meanwhile, Cerf’s mother, Yema Jones, said she was in shock over his death and was looking for answers. She said he had suffered mentally in recent years after the deaths of family members and that at the time of his death he had hoped to return to Houston to be with her. Although Cerf has a criminal record, Jones said he is a peaceful person.

“They’re making my son into someone he’s not,” Jones said. “He was very dynamic. He loved to dance. This was not a violent child in the making.

Jones said the past few days have been “tough and devastating.”

She was informed of her son’s death by a phone call from the Los Angeles County medical examiner’s office, which told her Cerf had been stabbed “multiple times.”

On his TikTok page, which had nearly 2,000 followers, Cerf shared several videos of himself dancing — sometimes alone, sometimes with family and friends.

Her son traveled frequently, Jones said, and had previously visited California. But on his most recent trip, he arrived in Los Angeles in late February.

He was the father of a 3-year-old boy, Anthony.

“One thing about me is that I will never paint a pretty picture of my son. I’m just going to give you the facts. Everyone goes through problems in life,” Jones said. “No matter what, he was still a father. He was still a brother. He was still a son. There was no need to go that far.

On Tuesday, one of Gallegos’ high school friends who went to school with him at USC described him as someone who went out of his way to take care of his friends.

“He was always listening to others,” says the friend. “I was heartbroken when I heard the news about Ivan. Ultimately, I know he was just trying to defend himself. He is loved by many at USC.

Gallegos’ family did not respond to calls seeking information about him. But in a brief phone conversation Tuesday, Gallegos’ mother said, “He’s a good boy. »

Earlier this year, Gallegos took to his LinkedIn page to share an excerpt from an essay he wrote for the USC Dornsife Prison Education Project.

“I will dedicate my life to starting a movement to inspire people struggling with crime to seek a better life for themselves, because a life locked up is not a life worth living,” he said. -he writes. The piece received an honorable mention.

Gallegos has also been featured in campus media for his work as a musician producing electronic dance music.

In May, he performed with Mariachi Los Troyanos at school under his stage name IDG, according to a recent report from USC Annenberg Media.

“Throughout his childhood, Ivan lived with the reality of both his parents’ involvement in gang activity, which led to their intermittent incarceration,” the report states. “Although he grew up in an environment saturated with drugs, gangs and prostitution, he focused on music and honed his skills to become a multi-faceted artist. [instrumentalist] and singer.

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