A photo of NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo giving a barefoot homeless man a pair of thermal socks and boots on a cold night became a viral sensation this week. On the Today show, DePrimo chalked up his motives to basic human decency, saying he “just [had] to help him out.”
“The two things that really stuck out in my mind that night was just how cold it was and that this was the most polite gentleman I ever met, and I knew I had to help him,” DePrimo said on Today Friday.
Jennifer Foster, visiting Times Square from Arizona, snapped a picture of the act of kindness and posted it to her Facebook account. She later forwarded it to the NYPD, who posted it to their official page. The photo has picked up nearly 500,000 likes on the NYPD’s page, 70,000 on Today‘s, and trending mentions on Twitter.
“I knew what I was looking at,” said Foster, a law enforcement vet herself. “I knew it was remarkable,” she said.
The humble, 25-year-old officer was on counter terrorism patrol that night, and spoke to the homeless man before heading into a shoe store to pick him up a pair of socks and boots. “I worked in the city for about 10 years and no one’s really sort of taken that sort of initiative,” said the store employee who sold DePrimo the socks and boots (at a discount). It ended up costing DePrimo $75 of his own money.
“I really didn’t think about the money,” DePrimo said. “I said, I don’t care what the price is. We just got to help him out.”
He said his new-found internet fame is “surreal and extremely humbling.”
“It’s a great experience,” he said. “I think it’s a lot about the people, though, because you see such great comments. People are saying that their faith in humanity is restored and that’s the biggest thing that I can take away from all of this.”