Reality Sucks - As Does Uninformed Bias
Who knows what that woman saw and, most importantly, in what context, but no-one here is in any position to make an informed jugement. What would YOU do (or should you do) if you HONESTLY BELIEVED that you saw someone pointing a gun? And how precisely should an ARV crew react if told to tackle a reported gunman; give him the benefit of the doubt? Get real guys, hindsight and ignorance are wonderful things.
@Michael: How was it obvious ON THE STREET that the guy was not a "Mental Gun Nut" .... do you know what one looks like? The cops certainly don't, no offence to the guy in question, but bad guys and the disturbed can and do come in all shapes and sizes.
@Ruana: The Police Armed Response Vehicles (ARV's) in Birmingham are some of the busiest in the country, Why? Because of the sheer volume of gun related crime there; sorry but I'm afraid there's rather a lot of it that goes on - mostly criminal on criminal and often requiring several armed Police deployments each and every shift! Not seen any? Lucky you.
@VampyreWolf: How many times are you required to shoot at people before you're classified as trigger happy? The fact is at any given moment there are hundreds of police officers carrying weapons operationally in the UK. They do this year in year out and have done so for decades - and in all that time well over 99% have never fired in anger and probably never will. Yes, they frequently deploy with guns but invariably resolve a situation without ever firing a shot.
How many bad guys quickly discard weapons and/or evidence when they fear they're about to be nicked? Take a guess - yep, practically all of them - what would YOU do in the criminal's position, willingly incriminate yourself? Duh!
So the call comes in and it is treated seriously; the guy is captured but doesn't THEN have a gun on him - no suprise to the cops, it often goes that way - so he's swifted away and processed in accordance with Statute Law. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act gives Custody Officers very little leeway on that. Don't like the law? - get active in politics. In the meantime, the area would have been secured and searched for the discarded weapon. It is only after that takes place that you can establish that there is/isnt sufficient evidence to proceed, whether or not your guy genuinely guilty. Believe it or not, its not just innocent people that plead their innocence and there's still a dire shortage of telepaths in the Police. If you know a quicker, easier and more efficent way to establish truth than gathering evidence please share it with me, we'd be billionaires!
I've had a very long and eventful Police career and in recent years have personally recovered functional (and often loaded) guns disguised as mobile phones, fountain pens, belt buckles and walking sticks, some improvised some manufactured. Not to mention knives, swords, pistols, automatic weapons and explosives - sometimes in prodigious quantities! I have been involved in more than one murder enquiry where the offender's actions have come as a complete and hideous surprise to everyone that knew them; occasionally even to the offender himself! That my friend is just the way it is.
Yes, I am trained and prepared to shoot if I have to but I am in no particular hurry to do so and, if given the choice, would rather not - this is our default attitude. In my Force alone, over the last 40 years, officers have carried guns for well in excess of 5 million manhours and in all that time the number of incidents that necessitated shots being fired can be counted on the fingers of one hand! Yes, people are occasionally shot and killed by police but a more informed perspective will reveal what a fortunately low ratio this still is in the U.K.
Hell, I've even met New York patrol cops that went through their entire service without ever firing a shot but I guess that makes for bad copy and poor fiction. Sorry if the facts don't chime with your particular reality but then we all have our own prejudices and, as I said, ignorance and hindsight are wonderful things!.