NYC homeless man still shoeless despite gift boots
Arizona tourist Jennifer Foster snapped this picture of NYPD Officer Larry DePrimo offering a barefoot homeless man a pair of boots in Times Square Nov. 14, 2012, which became a viral hit. / Jennifer Foster/NYPD/Facebook
NEW YORK The New York City homeless man whose gift of boots from an NYPD police officer became an online sensation is back on the streets with no shoes.
The New York Times found him Sunday night wandering barefoot in Manhattan. The paper identified him as Jeffrey Hillman, formerly of South Plainfield, N.J.
Asked about the $100 all-weather boots Officer Larry DePrimo gave him on Nov. 14, Hillman says he's hidden them because "they are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life."
He says he's grateful for the gift, but he wants "a piece of the pie" because the photo was posted online "without permission."
An Arizona tourist snapped the photo of the officer presenting new boots to Hillman. It went viral after it was posted on the NYPD's Facebook page.
DePrimo recalled the encounter last week to CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former NYPD deputy commissioner.
"I had two pairs of winter socks on and my combat boots, and my feet were still cold," said DePrimo. "And I was standing on West 44th and Broadway. And I had heard somebody laughing."
They were laughing at the man the Times identified as Hillman, barefoot on the freezing pavement.
"And you could just see the blisters," said DePrimo. "You know, he was just walking on the palms of his feet there. And -- it was -- it upset me. And, so, I went up to him and I said, I was like, 'Buddy,' I was like, 'where's your -- where's your socks, where's your shoes?' He was like, 'It's OK, officer, I never had a pair of shoes.'"
So DePrimo ran two blocks to a shoe store. DePrimo didn't ask for the least expensive pair.
"Because, I mean, first thing, like I said, it was cold," said DePrimo. "So, the cheap shoes wouldn't have done anything. You know, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You know, he's gonna have those boots for a long time. So, I said, 'Give me -- the best you got.'"
Jose Cano, the store manager on duty, said the employees' initial reaction was "total shock." They guessed on the homeless man's size.
"We couldn't believe what the officer was trying to do," said Cano. "We see so many people, so many cops and no one really kind of takes the time to do that."
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