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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
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)

(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.)

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Comments
Showing 3 of 90 comments
jeangnome
Dec 1, 2012 8:02 AM CST
What a shame you can't arrest people for being ignorant. Those laughing should be thanking God that they're not homeless and cold like this poor unfortunate man. It can happen to any of us!
2Tiredofcrap
Dec 1, 2012 1:45 AM CST
Usually, and as my moniker indicates, I am FED UP with all the craziness in the world, like the people laughing at the man's misery. But THIS story... It just touches my heart. You CANNOT lose when you GIVE... Don't worry about what the person is going to do with your donation. That's on THEM if they're faking. You've done your part. This officer's life is blessed. He may never again see the man for whom he bought the shoes. Do you believe in angels?! Well, I DO -- and when I read this, I got chills. The Bible says don't be forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2). PLEASE -- and I know the world is a mad, mad, MAD place -- but make it a point to 'entertain an angel' whenever possible...
GeorgeL
Nov 30, 2012 8:50 PM CST
After volunteering in a food pantry for a few years I have found that there are about as many reasons for being homeless as there are homeless people. Certainly drug and alcohol abuse are factors, plus mental illness or just a plain lack of motivation. But there are lots of other reasons, people suffer from illnesses other than mental, they sometimes just run into a streak of bad luck, lose their jobs, get behind their bills, can't afford the hospital bills for their children or spouse When I read of the kindness and humanity of someone like Officer DePrimo, it leaves a lump in my throat. If only God would bless us with more people like him this old world would be a whole lot better off. Anyone who would laugh at someone else's misfortune should stop and think that it just could as easily be them, but for the grace of God. Again I am reminded of a popular of a popular song from when I was a kid, it was by Joe South. "Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Before You Choose, Criticize And Abuse, Walk A Mile In My Shoes". May you all have a Merry Christmas, but remember the less fortunate this year.