Jurors on Wednesday acquitted a woman of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges that were brought in connection to a crash that killed an off-duty officer three years ago.

Rachel Juliussen was in a Jeep attempting to make a left turn from Seventh Place onto Ocean Boulevard at about 2:25 p.m. on June 4, 2020, when she collided with Officer Anton Fischer, who was driving his motorcycle while on the way to work.

Over the course of the nearly month-long trial, jurors were tasked with weighing Juliussen’s culpability in Fischer’s death, and they had multiple forms of evidence, including expert analysis and video of the incident, to consider.

In court, video evidence and witness testimony revealed that the force of the crash was so strong it launched Juliussen’s Jeep more than 30 feet onto a sidewalk and caused Fischer to go airborne, cracking his helmet.

Video captured by a passing Tesla driver that was played in court, meanwhile, shows Fischer driving through Orange Avenue and Sixth Place as Juliussen’s Jeep can be seen at Seventh Place slowly inching closer to the intersection.

As Fischer approaches Seventh Place, Juliussen can be seen accelerating quickly and pulling out in front of Fischer, who then strikes the back left side of the Jeep.

Dozens of people who witnessed the scene or were driving by rushed to Fischer’s aid before paramedics arrived and transported him to a local hospital, where he later died. Juliussen, meanwhile, remained at the scene and talked with Long Beach police, who handled the investigation.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office never presented any charges against Juliussen. The Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office, however, chose to pursue vehicular manslaughter charges. The City Prosecutor’s Office has jurisdiction over all misdemeanors in Long Beach.

A misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge carries less of a penalty than a felony and only requires prosecutors to prove ordinary negligence. For felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, prosecutors would have to show a defendant acted in a reckless enough manner that a reasonable person would expect a high risk of injury or death to occur.

In Julissuen’s case, prosecutors alleged she failed to yield at the stop sign and that her decision to cross the intersection was not one a reasonable person would have made.

During the trial, Juliussen’s attorney, Ambrosio Rodriguez, maintained that his client drove her vehicle that day in the manner that you’d expect from a reasonable person.

He also sought to portray Fischer as a reckless driver, arguing that his excessive speed along Ocean Boulevard was a crucial factor in his death.

Long Beach Deputy City Prosecutor Pooja Kim, however, contended that Juliussen acted negligently while driving and that her decisions and subsequent actions in the moments leading up to the crash made her responsible for Fischer’s death, regardless of whatever speed he may have been going.

Though Long Beach Police Department Detective Kelsey Myers testified in court that she did not feel comfortable estimating the speed at which Fischer was traveling based on the evidence she was provided, Kurt Weiss, a mechanical engineer with 35 years of experience in traffic collision reconstruction and forensic analysis, who was hired by Rodriguez’s firm, calculated Fischer may have been going up to 79 miles per hour at the point of impact.

Juliussen’s Jeep, meanwhile, recorded her data as well, which indicated that she began committing to the left turn just over 2.5 seconds before the point of impact, or as Fischer was just over 50 feet away. It also shows that at 0.6 seconds, she presses the accelerator pedal at 100% force, increasing her speed to 16 miles per hour at the point of impact.

Some witnesses supported Weiss’ calculations of Fischer traveling at excessive speed, while others suggested he was going the speed limit and shifted the blame toward Juliussen.

Juliussen later testified that she had made that same left turn “hundreds of times” and that although she saw Fischer at Sixth Place, she didn’t expect him to arrive so quickly at Seventh Place.

She also said that she pressed the pedal down shortly before the crash as an “involuntary reaction” to seeing Fischer so close to her vehicle as she was attempting to make the turn.

She testified the crash knocked her unconscious and that before she knew it, there were officers telling her to get a lawyer because she would be “going down for this.”

During closing arguments, Kim cast doubt on the defense attorney’s witnesses and Juliussen’s testimony, saying Weiss was being paid to agree with Rodriguez’s narrative of the events in order to cast Fischer as the responsible party.

“It’s not that Officer Fischer crashed into her, it’s that she pulled out in front of him and caused him to crash,” Kim said. “Victim blaming is not going to work here.”

She also said that Juliussen had a “motive to fool” jurors and asked them to consider her demeanor while testifying.

“She planned her testimony very carefully,” Kim said, stating that Juliussen was “selfish and self-absorbed,” and accusing her of lacking remorse and responsibility.

“She had a duty to look out for him,” Kim said. “She failed.”

Rodriguez, meanwhile, argued that Juliussen was not guilty of anything and asked jurors to make a ruling using the law, “not feelings,” after accusing Kim of trying to emotionally manipulate them.

He maintained that Officer Fischer bore the responsibility and that he had a known reputation within the police department for driving his motorcycle at high speeds.

Additionally, he brought into question the police department’s decision to investigate the crash themselves rather than letting another agency handle it.

“This investigation is a disaster,” Rodriguez said. “In this case, Long Beach Police Department put their thumbs on the scale. … Detectives lied with impunity.”

He told jurors that the “lack of integrity” in the investigation was enough for them to reject this case and decide Juliussen was not guilty.

“If Anton Fischer was not a Long Beach police officer, do you think Long Beach police would have investigated this case the way they did?” Rodriguez asked jurors.

In her rebuttal, Kim countered and said officers handled the case appropriately, doing all their tasks as “effectively and efficiently as they could.”

Kim told jurors that “even if police did some horrible job in this case, which they did not,” there’s still enough footage and other evidence for the jurors to decide that Juliussen was guilty.

“No one is saying someone intended to kill Officer Fischer,” Kim said. “That’s why the charges are appropriate for the conduct.”

Ultimately, after deliberating from Tuesday morning to Wednesday afternoon, jurors found Juliussen not guilty of two counts of vehicular manslaughter with ordinary negligence.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Pooja Kim’s name and title and to clarify the process of filing charges in this case. It has also been updated to correctly reflect crash data from the Jeep. 

Man sentenced to 21 years in prison for Central Long Beach killing that stemmed from dispute over bicycle