Photo of Good Samaritan NYPD Cop Buying Boots for Homeless Man is Authentic

Officer Lawrence Deprimo bought new boots for a homeless man he encountered in Times Square (Photo by Jennifer Foster).


The photo of a New York City cop buying a pair of boots for a barefoot homeless man came across my Facebook timeline Tuesday night as I was writing the story on Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez fighting to keep the Illinois eavesdropping law alive.

It caught my eye and quickly read it, taking a quick break from my writing.
I was impressed that anybody would do that, especially a cop, but I was also a little skeptical. Especially considering the number of times people get burned on the internet with stories or photos or videos that appear too good to be true.

Usually I try to check out the veracity of a story before sharing it with my readers, but I didn’t have time to do so that night, so I just shared it with the following words: “Here’s a very positive story regarding NYPD. I hope it’s true.”

The photo ended up receiving more than 60 likes, 33 shares and 44 comments with several of my Facebook friends accusing the NYPD of staging the shot.

By Wednesday evening, after the photo and accompanying story had gone viral, racking up more than 1.6 million views, 275,000 likes and 16,000 comments,  the New York Times confirmed that it was not staged.

The cop’s name is Lawrence Deprimo and he’s only been on the force for two years. He apparently had no idea he was being photographed.

According to the New York Times:

Officer Deprimo, 25, who joined the department in 2010 and lives with his parents on Long Island, was shocked at the attention. He was not warned before the photo went online; the department had not learned which officer was in the picture until hours later.

The officer, normally assigned to the Sixth Precinct in the West Village, readily recalled the encounter. “It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” he said in an interview. “I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.” They started talking; he found out the man’s shoe size: 12.

As the man walked slowly down Seventh Avenue on his heels, Officer Deprimo went into a Skechers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m. “We were just kind of shocked,” said Jose Cano, 28, a manager working at the store that night. “Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.”

Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of the all-weather boots to a little more than $75. The officer has kept the receipt in his vest since then, he said, “to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”

The photo was taken by Jennifer Foster, a civilian communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. She said the moment resonated for personal reasons: She remembered as a young girl seeing her father, a 32-year veteran of the Phoenix police force, buy food for a homeless man.

Deprimo showed great compassion and character through his actions, traits that we rarely get to see among police officers.

But it’s obvious from the response this photo received that those traits generate tons of respect from the population at large; the kind of respect all cops should strive for.

Unfortunately, too many cops have been going about earning respect the wrong way.

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • Boomer

    Deprimo is a class act. An officer like this is one I can respect, and I hope that doesn’t change for him.

  • Jim_Pook

    Thanks for sharing this Carlos – It’s nice to see the work of GOOD COPS. If only there were more of them, and less of the ones we usually find on these pages.

  • Difster

    He’s a cop in NYC. He’s still enforcing unjust and draconian laws. Fine, he did a nice thing for someone but chances are, he’s still a thug with a badge. Even bad guys do good things once in a while.

    The cartels in Mexico build schools and hospitals and provide houses for the poor but they’re still murderous bastards who deserve a bullet in the head.

    • Jim Ramsey

      Wow, you’re not a judgmental as___ole are you?

      • Difster

        All cops are thugs with badges. It comes with the job. So yes, he’s still a thug with a badge even though he managed to do something nice for someone.

  • Common Sense

    Thanks for the update Carlos. It is even more refreshing knowing this was not a staged photo but a truly compassionate person. I am glad to see there are officers out there who remember one of the reasons we got into this job. Not to detract from the good deed, but I wonder what he would have done/said if he knew he was being photographed, hum?

  • ExCop-Lawyer

    I wish we had more of these stories, great job on the young officer’s part.

  • zedge

    I wonder how many cops start out this way and become hard and jaded over the years.

  • zapeee

    its great to see a police officer doing something other than hassling someone. Glad to see Mr. Deprimo takes the “serve” part seriously.

  • steveo

    I think Sketchers missed a big opportunity here. I can’t believe they actually charged the cop 75 bucks for the shoes. How much advertisement does $75 buy, shoe companies pay atheletes millions every year to advertise, this company could have bought a viral ad for only that amount.

    I worked in retail and the amount of $ in products and services that a manager gives away for goodwill is mindboggling, here they screwed up

    • $910553

      They had no idea he was going to be photographed. If the shot had not been taken, the store would have been out the $75 with NO publicity. Do I need to remind you this was in New York City? I do sincerely thank Officer Deprimo for his actions.

  • Keith Turrill

    I am surprised that the cop did not turn around and arrest the photographer.

  • David Katscher

    Like all humans, Not all cops are bad.

  • Teresa Pelka

    A good Samaritan – why? Has the policeman been asked his religion? Wouldn’t be a good Christian… 😉

  • merlyn

    Impressive. Thats what “TO PROTECT AND SERVE” Means.

  • mancavedude

    he gets the Serpico award