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NYPD Cop Buys Homeless Man Boots refers to New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Larry DePrimo’s act of generosity toward shoeless panhandler Jeffery Hillman in November of 2012.
On November 27th, 2012, the official NYPD Facebook page posted a photograph of a police officer kneeling in front of a shoeless man. The caption contained an account by Arizona resident Jennifer Foster, who claimed she heard the officer offer the man a pair of boots as a gift. Over the course of the next five months, the post received over 617,000 likes, 218,000 shares and 48,500 comments. The same day, Redditor fett4ever reposted the photo to the /r/pics subreddit, where it received over 13,900 up votes and 580 comments in the same time frame.
News Media Coverage
On November 28th, 2012, The New York Times published an article about the photograph, identifying the police officer as Larry DePrimo of Long Island. In the next several days, the story was covered by several news site, including Jezebel, The Daily What, People, Gothamist,NPR and CBS.
Today Show Appearance
On November 30th, 2012, Deprimo appeared on the Today Show morning talk show, where he talked about helping others in need with Jennifer Foster (shown below).
Homeless Man Identity Revealed
On December 2nd, The New York Times published an article identifying the homeless man as 54-year-old Jeffrey Hillman from South Plainfield, New Jersey and reported that he had been seen on the Upper West Side without shoes on. When asked about the boots, Hillman responded that he had hidden them:
“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life.”
Hillman was also quoted saying that he wanted a “piece of the pie” since the photograph had been spread around the world. On December 3rd, 2012, the NY Daily News published an article revealing that Hillman was not homeless and had been living in a Bronx apartment for the past year. On December 10th, YouTuber lex elizabeth uploaded an interview with Hillman, where he reiterated that he does not wear the boots because he is afraid that people will rob him (shown below).
On March 26th, the New York Post published an article highlighting a video in which Hillman can be seen counting a wad of bills (shown below). The article noted that Hillman’s utilities were being paid by a New Jersey clergyman, who claimed the panhandler had “30 pairs of shoes” at his Bronx apartment.
NY Daily News – Barefoot homeless man immortalized in photos isnt homeless
New York Times – Photo of Officer Giving Boots to Barefoot Man Warms Hearts Online
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