Dad Steve Rudge, 50, from Upton, was stunned when he pulled up next to the armed officers as they aimed their assault rifles at a man in a Ford Focus.
His stepson, Henry Dukabe, 19, snapped four pictures on his phone just metres from the cops before wife Irina Ruge, 46, sped off at 5.15pm yesterday.
The dramatic photos show the police ordering a white male out of his car, which is parked in a lay bay next to Sixfields Recycling Centre, Northampton.
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Steve, said: “We had taken the van to chuck away some old carpet at the recycling centre.
“Then just as we were driving out we immediately came across two police cars and a stand-off with another vehicle.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is serious - they’ve got guns.’ It looked like something off a film set. More American than anything you see in the UK.
“None of us said anything to each other, we were just all in shock staring at it I think.
“We didn’t really stop, Henry just took four pictures as we slowed down.
“The officers weren’t saying anything, but presumably they’d just told the man to get out as he was coming out with his hands up.
“As we pulled away there were a couple of other cars coming the other way and they were all there with their jaws dropped.
“The thing is, the way the car was parked it must have already been there when they arrived because it was at a dead end facing outwards. “It can’t have been a chase, so we just don’t know why there was an armed stand-off. We looked, but there’s nothing about it online.”
Northamptonshire Police has confirmed the incident was a training exercise however and has apologised for any concern caused.