"The officer could have taken down a tag number and stopped. You follow them, you don't push them to go faster. I think they were forced into a high-speed chase and they panicked."
An interesting thought, to be sure. Does it merit further consideration? Perhaps knowing the context will help. This quote came from the father of a 15-year-old, who died in a crash following. What do you think now?
Rather than engaging in pursuit of a vehicle that exhibits tendencies of an unsafe driver (notably weaving and speeding), should the officer who noticed the erratic behavior have taken down the license number and stopped, letting the vehicle proceed, to whatever end it might find? In a perfect world, where you know everything about every situation and the results that arise from your actions, maybe that would be an option.
But in the real world, our world, which is far from perfect? Absolutely not. The officer had no way of knowing that this was a car full of teenagers out for a joy ride, rather than someone driving after a few too many at the local watering hole. Even if the officer knew that it was teenagers out for a joyride, there would be no evidence that they hadn't been drinking. Even if there was such evidence, it's the responsibility of that officer to make every effort to keep the streets safe.
If the driver of the vehicle was weaving and speeding, as it allegedly was, the officer had every right to pursue the vehicle in order to maintain safety for other vehicles. That the driver exhibited horrible judgment and took off, rather than stop for the officer, is no one's problem except for the driver of the vehicle.
I'm sorry that these seven teenagers died. It's a tragedy. But blaming someone who should remain blameless - and in fact should receive kudos for doing their job as best they can - isn't going to help. If, instead of crashing by itself, this car had plowed into a loaded school bus a few minutes after the officer stopped, would it be okay, because the officer didn't engage in pursuit? Heck no - at that point, they'd be in the limelight because they didn't stop them when they had the chance.
This is no one's fault but the driver's.