Google Maps will remove image after San Fran man discovers photo of deceased sons body

by | Nov 19, 2013 | News

By: Sarah Rea

Google Maps is removing an aerial image next week after a San Francisco man discovered the website showed a photo of his 14-year-old sons’ body, who was shot and killed in 2009.

His father discovered the image displaying Kevin Barrera’s body earlier this week. The photo appears to show Barrera’s body lying near a railway line that separates North Richmond from San Pablo in San Francisco.

The image was taken the day after Barrera was killed, on Aug. 15, 2009 and shows him surrounded by investigators with a police car parked nearby.

Police said the father, Jose Barrera, asked Google to remove the photo immediately out of respect for his son. The company said the photo will remain posted until it is further investigated, which could take longer than a week.

Jamie Scott, project manager at Google, told Humber News the photo wasn’t taken intentionally and will be removed once they have reviewed it and are able to capture a new image for the site.

“Our satellite cameras move inch by inch snapping photos every three seconds and uploading them to the web. It would be completely different if it were some person taking the photos and uploading them manually. The chances of something like this happening are so rare and it’s a shame this family is going through this. Google Maps is meant to help people, not hurt them.”

Shruthi Sonu, an analyst for Google Maps, told Humber News they have received complaints regarding privacy concerns in the past, and have always taken all suggestions into consideration.

“Google Maps have blurred house numbers, license plates, faces, company names and so much more to avoid breaching the privacy of the public.” Sonu said, “Google and our navigation department are aware of the alleged problems with this satellite photo and are working to rectify it as soon as possible.”

According to a statement made Monday by Google Maps vice-president Brian McClendon, “Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstances we wanted to make an exception in this case. We believe we can update this in eight days, and we’ve spoken to the family to let them know we’re working hard on the update.”

Street View, a feature which allows the public to examine roads through images taken by Google cameras mounted on vehicles, buses and bikes, has given the public the ability to report concerns anytime they wish.

Images taken by Google from satellites above, which show a greater view of an area, do not offer the same feature.