The family of 54-year-old Jeffrey Hillman, the homeless man who was photographed in Times Square accepting a pair of new boots from nice cop Lawrence DePrimo, was understandably surprised to learn that their relative was the subject of the viral picture. Hillman's sister-in-law, a Pennsylvania church administrator, told the New York Post that she'd heard about the story on TV, but she didn't recognize her brother-in-law — who has apparently been on and off the streets for decades — until she saw the image on the front page of the newspaper. "The last time we heard from him was maybe a year ago on New Year’s Day," she said. "Once a year, he calls us to let us know he’s OK." His niece, a producer living in Maryland, said that her uncle is "well aware" that he was always welcome in his family's home, but he "has his own life, and he's chosen that life." The city has taken a similarly hands-off approach, as police commissioner Ray Kelly explained: "We're not looking for him. He has shoes now. He’s much more difficult to spot." While we didn't really expect the NYPD to try to track Hillman down, it would be nice if Kelly would maintain the heartwarming spirit of the story by not joking about his situation.
Photo: Jennifer Foster