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Kind NYPD Officer’s Homeless Friend Is Barefoot Again, Fears For His Life

Homeless man hides the shoes

NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo became a household name last week after a photo of him giving boots to a barefoot homeless man on the street went viral. While grateful for the officer’s kindness, the barefoot homeless man says that he is barefoot once again.

The viral image was an inspiration, with Officer DePrimo making front pages and morning talk shows, the NYPD getting some good press and karma, and millions feeling a newly-restored faith in human kindness. Since that time, the press has taken interest in the homeless man in the picture, whose name is Jeffrey Hillman. On Sunday night, he was spotted wandering about the Upper West Side, barefoot once again.

The 54-year-old said that he was stunned and incredibly grateful for Officer DePrimo’s gift but says that he has hidden the $100 pair of boots because he is afraid for his life.

“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Hillman said. “I could lose my life.”

“I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” he said. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”

“I appreciate what the officer did, don’t get me wrong,” Hillman said. “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”

He also expressed his gratitude to the public at large for the attention. “I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost.”

Hillman seemed conflicted by the gift, and, while grateful, you can tell that he’s apprehensive about the fame and attention he has received. He is a former Army “food service specialist” and has two adult children with whom he is in limited contact. When asked about how his life got so off course, he stared blankly and replied “I don’t know,” reports the NY Times.

While he was being interviewed, several people noticed him, with one asking “What happened to the boots?”

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14 Responses to “Kind NYPD Officer’s Homeless Friend Is Barefoot Again, Fears For His Life”

  1. Christopher Koulouris

    Ultimately one has to wonder if Mr Hillman sold his shoes to acquire means to sustain his situation (and unfortunately that does include possibly narcotics and or alcohol) or whether he’s deep in the throes of mental illness that has debilitated his ability to see that if he is to indeed get ahead in life he will indeed need to preserve himself, and that does mean wearing shoes.

    One has to also wonder to what degree the system is culpable that homelessness is such a prevalent situation in a wealthy country like America…

  2. Suzanne M Hiltz

    why diesn't he just get help and and get his life back on track?

  3. Amy Leonard

    Some never get back on tract, it is a deep emotional situation. Let us remember the good part of this story which is the police officer's warm heart and kindness toward this man. While others stood there and laughed at this man.

  4. Rusty Reno

    He traded the shoes for drug money. I've seen it before. He won't come clean either way.

  5. Marie Murphy

    my heart hurts for this man and so many others like him! It doesn't take much in our society today to end up where he is. My thoughts and prayers go out for him.

  6. Kelly Cornell

    Being a former homeless person myself, it's not so easy to get your life "back on track". I looked for jobs, but when the employer found out I was homeless, they didn't hire me (I guess they figured all homeless people are unreliable). The only job I could get (& it didn't pay much) was Labor Ready (a temp job place). The only reason I have a place now is that my sister asked if I could move back to Iowa & live with her.

  7. Anonymous

    He ether sold them, or plans to sell them. he is where he is because of choices and decisions JUST LIKE THIS! No pity for him. NONE.

  8. Ann Bogard

    I agree with Kelly, unless you have been there you have no idea. parts of his story may have holes in it, but one thing is true, If the shoes are expensive, yeah people will fight and take your life over them. You have to remember he is on the street. I pass no judgement. Whatever he did with them, bottom line living on the street day to day is not an easy thing.

  9. Anonymous

    He traded them for boss or drugs. This is why you should leave homeless people alone. There are plenty of places for them to get help if they really want it.

  10. Anonymous

    He traded them for booze or drugs. This is why you should leave homeless people alone. There are plenty of places for them to get help if they really want it.

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