NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An NYPD officer who made headlines for an act of kindness a year ago was the recipient of a special honor Tuesday.
Officer Lawrence DePrimo was promoted to the rank of detective.
The photo of DePrimo’s act of goodwill went viral and touched hearts all over the country. Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster took a snapshot of Officer Larry DePrimo, 25, giving a barefoot man a new pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks in Times Square on Nov. 14 of last year.
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 told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
DePrimo said he has not seen the man since last year. His father said he is very proud of his son.
The purportedly homeless man, Jeffrey Hillman, was the subject of a scandal following DePrimo’s act of kindness. CBS 2 revealed in March that Hillman was not really homeless, and tracked him down at his apartment in the Bronx, where his building superintendent said he had been living for the last year.
Hillman said he did not scam Officer DePrimo.
“I sure didn’t force him to do it, sir,” he said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he believed perhaps Hillman took advantage of the officer.
“That’s life in New York in terms of people who try to scam us. We know that that happens,” Kelly said in March. “But it was a generous act of kindness.”
Slattery reported in March Hillman clearly looks needy at times. He remembered that Slattery himself gave him money one day on Broadway in the 1970s.
“Did I commit a crime and force you to come outside and hand me $5?” Hillman asked Slattery.
“No, you didn’t commit any crime,” Slattery said. “But you were leading me to believe you’re homeless when in fact, you weren’t.”
Hillman is a U.S. Army veteran who receives some support, and spends his days accepting the generosity of others.
A childhood friend of Hillman, who was helping support him financially, described Hillman as mentally ill and in need of medicine which he doesn’t always take.
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