Photo of NYC police officer giving boots to homeless man goes viral

An officer's simple act of kindness has made him online celebrity, thanks to a snapshot-taking tourist from Arizona.

Jennifer Foster of Florence, Arizona, was visiting Times Square with her husband on November 14 when she noticed a barefoot man asking for change.

Officer Lawrence DePrimo, 25, approached the man with a pair of boots and knelt at his side to help him. Foster captured the touching exchange with her cellphone, then submitted the image to the NYPD's official Facebook page.

By Wednesday, the photo had been viewed more than 1.6 million times.

"Right when I was about to approach, one of your officers came up behind him. The officer said, 'I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you.' The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching," she wrote. "I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life. I did not get the officer's name. It is important, I think, for all of us to remember the real reason we are in this line of work. The reminder this officer gave to our profession in his presentation of human kindness has not been lost on myself or any of the Arizona law enforcement officials with whom this story has been shared."


DePrimo was shocked by the attention, the New York Times reports, as he was unaware the photo was even taken.

In an interview, he recounted that evening:

"It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man's feet," he said. "I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold."

DePrimo then went into a nearby Sketchers shoe store, where the manager offered the officer his employee discount to help bring down the price of a pair of boots to just over $75.

Upon receiving the new boots, DePrimo told the Associated Press that the man "smiled from ear to ear. It was like you gave him a million dollars."

DePrimo still carries that receipt with him, he said, "to remind me that sometimes people have it worse."