The barefoot man helped by a kind cop in New York City is not actually homeless.
Last week, we told you about the heartwarming story of an NYPD officer giving a homeless and barefoot man a pair of winter boots.
The story seemed almost too good to be true. And, according to one report, that is in fact the case.
The New York Daily News reported on Monday that the barefoot man in question, Jeffrey Hillman, is not actually homeless. Instead, he has an apartment in the Bronx thanks to disability benefits and vouchers.
The article also notes that Jeffrey Hillman has repeatedly turned down assistance from local agencies.
"Officer [Lawrence] DePrimo's kindness and generosity complemented an array of housing and support services provided by the city over the past several years," said Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeless Services.
Jeffrey Hillman reportedly resided in transitional housing from 2009 to late 2011 before getting his current home through the Department of Veteran Affairs. According to the New York Times, Jeffrey Hillman was a food service specialist in the Army for five years.
The Times also reported last week that the barefoot man who is not homeless was back on the streets a few days later. Once again, Hillman was barefoot, telling reporters that he had hidden the shoes so they would not be stolen.
However, Jeffrey Hillman made sure to thank the NYPD Officer DiPrimo for the random act of kindness.
"I appreciate what the officer did, don't get me wrong," he said. "I wish there were more people like him in the world."
"I want to thank everyone that got onto this thing," Hillman continued. "I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. It meant a lot to me. And to the officer, first and foremost."
This story made headlines late last month, when a tourist from Arizona snapped a photograph of NYPD Officer DiPrimo giving a pair of boots to what looked like a barefoot homeless man in NYC. The photo and the accompanying email from the tourist were posted on the NYPD's Facebook page, where it has been liked over 612,000 times.
"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,' the tourist's email stated. "The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching. I have been in law enforcement for 17 years. I was never so impressed in my life."
The tourist, Jennifer Foster, is a civilian communications director for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, according to the New York Times.