Houston cops ticket homeless vet for searching trash can for food

A homeless veteran says he was just looking for something to eat when he was ticketed by Houston police officers for rummaging through a trash can.

44-year-old James Kelly tells the Houston Chronicle he was cited for "disturbing the contents of a garbage can in (the) downtown business district."

"I was just basically looking for something to eat," Kelly told the paper. "I wasn't in a real good mood."

Houston city officials pointed out in an e-mail to the paper that a charitable food event was happening at the same time Kelly was cited, but referred all other questions on the matter to police.

"The ordinance is specific to the Central Business District," the Houston Police Department said in a statement. "It is a violation for anyone to remove any contents of any bin, bag or other container that has been placed for collection of garbage, trash or recyclable materials. An officer has probable cause to issue such a citation when a person is seen opening a lid and rummaging through contents of a dumpster or trash can."

Kelly, who spent about nine years in Navy, says he does not plan to stay in Houston, but has nowhere to live at this time.

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