Video: NYPD officer: ‘I knew I had to help’ homeless man

  1. Closed captioning of: NYPD officer: ‘I knew I had to help’ homeless man

    >> a touching photo of a police officer giving boots to a homeless man here in new york city . nbc's stephanie gosk has more on this random act of kindness that's captured hearts everywhere. stephanie , good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning, savannah. that now famous photo was taken just over my shoulder. we're about half a block from times square , one of the busiest city intersections in the world. on a typical night it's filled with tourists looking up at the billboards and the neon lights , but on that night there were at least two people who had their eyes on the street, a police officer who went to help a man in need and a tourist from arizona who caught it on camera. new yorkers don't necessarily have the best reputation, but this photo may shatter some misconceptions. nypd officer larry deprimo giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man on a cold november night. jennifer foster, a tourist from arizona , couldn't resist taking the photo.

    >> this officer squatted down next to him, took his gloves off the hand and proceeded to help the man put socks and shoes on his feet this. man's face lit up like it was christmas and like he had just been given literally $1 million.

    >> reporter: officer deprimo was on counterterrorism patrol that night.

    >> it was freezing. first thing i thought was this is absolutely unacceptable, so i went up to him and i said where are your socks or shoes or anything?

    >> reporter: the shoe store was right there. jose cano was on shift.

    >> no one has really sort of taken this initiative.

    >> reporter: he cut deprimo a deal on waterproof winter boots and the officer said with his own moan money.

    >> i keep the receipt in my bulletproof vest most of all because it's a remind their some people have it worse.

    >> selfless service, an act of human kindness and had no intention of receiving any credit for it.

    >> reporter: and perhaps that's why the photo has gone viral. more than 337,000 likes on facebook, and all over twitter. nypd officer larry deprimo, i salute you. a reminder of what protect and serve is supposed to mean. in the city they are called new york's finest. officer deprimo is a good reason why. the sudden celebrity might be making officer deprimo a little uncomfortable. he said he did what any other officener this city would do, that the men and women of the nypd are doing this kind of thing every day. savannah?

    >> reporter: but it's great to see. stephanie gosk, thank you. officer larry deprimo is here with us along with jennifer foster, the tour whoist captured the image of kindness. good morning to both of you. you sort of met the other night, in the same space, but this is first time you have gotten to talk. you shared quite a moment together.

    >> absolutely.

    >> yes, we did.

    >> see you chatting, a little friendship forming here?

    >> definitely.

    >> we decided that we were best frerngsds y -- best friends , yes.

    >> yes.

    >> you are an nypd officer and see sad things every day. you run across need. what was it about this that made you want to do something?

    >> the two things that stuck out in my mind is how cold it was and this was the most polite gentleman i ever met and i knew hi to help him.

    >> you went into the shoe store and cut a deal. this is 75 bucks out of your own pocket

    >> i really didn't think about the money. when i went to them i said listen, there's an elderly man, he doesn't have any shoes or socks on, i don't care what the price, is we've got to help him out.

    >> what i love is that you both describe his reaction the exact same way.

    >> i think it was great that, you know, from the two perspectives we've seen two different things but our stories were together. i don't know.

    >> jennifer you said his face lit up.

    >> he did. this was the second time i had seen the gentleman in the city, two days in a row, and not at any point before that had he seemed as happy as he was when officer deprimo came up to him.

    >> and there you were standing there with your camera. you come from a law enforcement family. what was it about what you saw that made you think i want to take this picture?

    >> i was actually going to go up and offer this gentleman some money, and i stopped once i saw officer deprimo coming towards him, and because i -- i've been doing this long enough in a similar line of work, and my father was a police officer in the city of phoenix, arizona for 32 years, i knew that it was remarkable, and i honestly had seen my dad do something similar for a gentleman in the same situation back in phoenix, and i thought i knew what i was looking at.

    >> long story short, you contacted the nypd and put it on your facebook page and lo and behold you are famous. what's this experience been like for you, sir?

    >> surreal and extremely humbling, you know. it's a great experience. i think it's a lot about the people though because you see such great comments. people are saying their faith in humanitiy is restored and that's the biggest thing i can take away from this.

    >> i was thinking about an old quote, character is something you do when no one is watching and this time everyone got to see your character. appreciate it.

    >> thank you.


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