Google Maps to remove image showing body of slain son, after California dad protests

RICHMOND, Calif. - Google says it will replace a Google Maps image after a California father complained it shows the body of his 14-year-old son, who was shot to death in 2009.

Jose Barrera told KTVU-TV over the weekend that he became aware of the image of his son Kevin earlier in the week. He said he wants Google Inc. to take down the image out of respect for his son.

"When I see this image, that's still like that happened yesterday," Barrera told the news station Sunday. "And that brings me back to a lot of memories."

 "Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy ...," said Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps, in a written statement sent Monday to CNN and other media outlets. "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."

McClendon said replacing the image will take about eight days and that Google has spoken to the Barrera family "to let them know we're working hard on the update."

The image shows what appears to be a body on the ground near a rail line with several other people, presumably investigators, and what looks like a police car nearby. It was visible on Google's website Monday, and the company has said it will remain so for a little more than a week.

Kevin's body was found on a path near railroad tracks that separate North Richmond from San Pablo on Aug. 15, 2009. His slaying remains unsolved.

Police believe Kevin was killed in the same spot the night before his body was found, said Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov. They have not established a motive for the slaying or identified any suspects.

Google says most of its overhead images are about one to three years old, although it tries to update them regularly.

Google Maps also provides a street view function that allows people to tour areas as someone passing through them would. Street View displays images that have been gathered by Google using cameras mounted on cars, tricycles and even snowmobiles.

Some of the images have raised privacy concerns, though Google says its technology automatically blurs license plates and people's faces. It also allows users to report concerns about the images.

There is, however, no similar reporting feature for overhead imagery, according to Google.

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