Officer DePrimo Says He'd 'Absolutely' Do It Again To Help Someone In Need

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The NYPD officer caught on camera giving a new pair of socks and boots to a barefoot and seemingly homeless man has been honored by the city council.

Officer Larry DePrimo, 25, said he hasn’t been paying much attention to the reports on the man, later identified as Jeffrey Hillman.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

DePrimo said Monday that he felt compelled to help a man less fortunate.

“I’ve heard a lot of things, a lot of stories have come out since then. I don’t really think it’s about what happened afterwards, I think it’s really great if people remember what happened initially. It’s one person helping another and that’s what we have to remember at the end of the day,” DePrimo said.

Hillman was spotted on the street a few days after the act of kindness was recorded, again shoeless. Hillman said he hid the expensive shoes for fear “I could lose my life,” over the boots, he told reporters.

The young officer was honored for his generosity with a proclamation from the city council. Speaker Christine Quinn said the officer has set an example for other New Yorkers.

Hillman also complained that he didn’t ‘get his piece of the pie’ from the photo that went viral.

Regardless, DePrimo said he is committed to offering a helping hand again.

“Would I do it again? Absolutely. I’d do it next year, I’d do it five years from now and for the rest of my life,” said DePrimo.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

Quinn added that Hillman will forever have the memory of a stranger giving him something in his time of need.

Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster took a snapshot of Officer DePrimo giving a barefoot man a new pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks in Times Square on Nov. 14.

DePrimo was stationed at his foot post at the corner of 44th Street and Broadway that frigid night when he noticed an elderly homeless man, shoeless, on the sidewalk.

“I went up to him and I was like, ‘where are your shoes?’ He said ‘it’s OK officer, I’ve never had a pair of shoes but God bless you and thank you for doing what you’re doing,'” DePrimo said.

DePrimo went to the Skechers shoe store nearby and purchased $100 all-weather boots and socks for the man.

“When I brought out the shoes, it was just a smile from ear to ear, so it was absolutely amazing,” DePrimo said.

The photo became an instant hit after it was posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page.

But last week, CBS News reported that Hillman, formerly of South Plainfield, N.J., has been living rent-free in an apartment since late last year.

Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond told CBS News that Hillman has been on the city agency’s radar for a while. “Were sure because we’ve had such a sustained engagement with him for so many years,” Diamond said.

Hillman receives benefits because he is a veteran, Diamond said, and is enrolled in a veteran-focused part Section 8.

Hillman also receives benefits from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, Diamond said, adding the apartment comes with case management services, which Hillman doesn’t use.

Hillman is also a recipient of disability benefits through Social Security, a Homeless Services official told CBS News.

“The apartment is paid for,” said Diamond. “What he needs is a more productive way to spend his life, and that’s what we’re trying to do with him.”

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