Live

Watch CBSN Live

NYPD officer: Grandfather inspired act of kindness

NEW YORK A New York City police officer says advice he once received from his grandfather led him to purchase shoes for a homeless man in Times Square -- a random act of kindness that was captured on camera and has become an Internet hit.

Tourist Jennifer Foster, visiting the city from Arizona, snapped a shot of Officer Larry DePrimo giving the unidentified man a new pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks on a frigid night Nov. 14.

In a note to the NYPD, Foster explained that she was visiting "The Crossroads of the World" with her husband when she saw the man on the sidewalk asking for change. DePrimo offered something better.

"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.' ... I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life," she wrote.

DePrimo told CBS News' John Miller that he was shocked to see the man's bare feet.

"I went up to him and I said, 'Buddy where's your socks, where's your shoes?'" DePrimo said. "He said, 'It's okay officer, I never had a pair of shoes.' And that to me -- it took me back a few.'"

The 25-year-old said wise words from his grandfather spurred his good deed.

"The true inspiration was my grandfather, and he told me when I was much younger, 'If you are going to do something, do it 100 percent. And do it, or don't do it at all,'" DePrimo said. "And I think that stuck with me my entire life."

The police officer, who has two years on the force, told the New York Times he purchased the boots at a nearby Skechers shop, which granted him an employee discount, bringing the normally $100 boots down to $75. He told the paper he's held on to the receipt in his vest to remind him "that sometimes people have it worse."

The officer told Newsday the homeless man "smiled from ear to ear. It was like you gave him a million dollars."

When the NYPD posted the photo and portions of Foster's note on its Facebook page, the reaction was quick. As of Thursday evening, the picture had generated over 430,000 likes, had been shared over 146,000 times and had received over 31,000 comments.

John Miller will have more of his interview with Officer DePrimo Friday on "CBS This Morning."

View CBS News In