Hero Cop in Viral Photo: Crowd Was Laughing at Man

Lawrence DePrimo calls experience with homeless man 'humbling'

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 30, 2012 8:25 AM CST

(Newser) – The NYPD officer who became an Internet hero after buying boots for a homeless man says he was spurred to action when he saw people laughing at the man on the 35-degree night. "I went up to him and said, 'Where are your shoes?' And he said, 'It’s OK. I’ve never had a pair of shoes, but God bless you,'" says Lawrence DePrimo (or Larry, as the New York Post calls him). "And that had really taken me aback, because this gentleman had enough heart to say God bless me, and he didn’t even have a pair of socks! What sticks out in my mind is that he was just such a kind gentleman that I really had to help him."

"When I brought out the shoes, he had a smile from ear to ear—it was absolutely amazing," says the 25-year-old officer, who has been on the force two years. The man turned down DePrimo's offer of coffee and food. "I was able to share that moment with him, and then he just continued to walk on his way. It was a great moment for both of us." At home later, DePrimo woke his parents to talk about the incident and "how much it bothered him that people were making fun of the man," his mom recalls. The officer hopes to see the man again, and says, "I’d probably try to get him something to eat again, because I was unsuccessful the first time and I don’t like having a bad track record." (For a less joyful take on the whole thing, click to see what some people think the man did with the shoes.)

In this undated photo released by the New York City Police Department, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, officer Larry DePrimo is shown on-duty.
In this undated photo released by the New York City Police Department, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, officer Larry DePrimo is shown on-duty.   (AP Photo/New York Police Department)
This photo provided by Jennifer Foster shows New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo presenting a barefoot homeless man in New York's Time Square with boots Nov. 14, 2012.
This photo provided by Jennifer Foster shows New York City Police Officer Larry DePrimo presenting a barefoot homeless man in New York's Time Square with boots Nov. 14, 2012.   (AP Photo/Jennifer Foster)
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