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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Michelle Del Rey

USC student who fatally stabbed homeless man feared for his life and won’t be charged, DA says


A USC student has been absolved of criminal liability after he fatally stabbed a homeless man who broke into his car.

Ivan Gallegos, 19, acted in self-defense when he killed 27-year-old Xavier Cerf on Monday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said on Thursday. He will not face criminal charges.

Cerf broke into Gallegos’ 2010 Mercedes Benz, which was parked in the rear parking lot of his fraternity’s house on Greek Row on Monday. Gallegos and a couple of friends heard his car alarm go off around 8pm. Security footage showed the man breaking into the car, according to ABC 7.

They subsequently went outside to check on the vehicle.

Gallegos was armed with a knife and another friend had a large stick. The men armed themselves because the area was known to be dangerous. The group approached Cerf and asked him to get out of the car. He did not comply with the requests and said the car was his because it was “calling him” and “had his name.”

He then got out of the car but claimed he had a gun and reached for his waistband. Gallegos tried to use his left hand to stop Cerf from reaching for the supposed gun. He used his right hand to stab the man in the chest, the outlet reported.

The men continued to struggle and Cerf reached for his waistband again, prompting Gallegos to stab him three more times and pull him out of the car. The man then walked away and the students walked inside the house and called police. In the end, officials discovered that the man did not have a gun.

Other people confirmed the story and said they heard Cerf claim to have the weapon.

“The use of deadly force under these circumstances was both proportionate and objectively reasonable and would support a claim of perfect self-defense. Filing is rejected,” documents from the district attorney’s office that were obtained by the news station read.

Gallegos is attending the university’s Marshall School of Business.

“There is consistency in the assessment that the decedent indicated he had a gun,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday.

“Although he didn’t have a gun, he did reach out for his waistband. When you look at the totality of the circumstances, it really indicates there was a reasonable belief that Mr Gallegos believed his life was in danger.”

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