Father persuades Google Maps to remove image of murdered son

The satellite image showing police officers and a patrol car. Kevin Berrera has been cropped out of this image.
The satellite image showing police officers and a patrol car. Kevin Berrera has been cropped out of this image. Photo: Google Maps

The father of a teenage boy who was shot dead has convinced Google to remove an image of his son's corpse from its popular map application.

Kevin Berrera, 14, was murdered in 2009 and his body found abandoned next to some railway tracks in Richmond, California. Police have not found his killer.

Six years on, his father Jose noticed that his son's corpse could be seen in the exact spot where it was found on Google Maps.

He has now succeeded in persuading the internet giant to remove the image to save him and the family further pain.

Richmond is just north of San Francisco in California
Richmond is just north of San Francisco in California Credit: Google Maps

Jose Berrera told local TV station KTVU-TV that discovering the image has been "really painful to the whole family".

When I see this image, it's still like that happened yesterday. Really fresh, you know. And that brings me back to a lot of memories.

– jose kerrera speaking to KTVU-T

Google Maps use a mixture of satellite images from several years ago, and street-level images captured by cameras mounted on specially-designed cars.

The company automatically blurs faces and number plates in its street-level images, and users can request further blurring or removal by following a few simple steps.

But the process to remove satellite imagery is more lengthy due to of the volume of requests Google receives.

Google Maps vice-president Brian McClendon said he had taken the unusual step of accelerating Mr Berrera's case given its serious nature:

Our hearts go out to the family of this young boy.

Since the media first contacted us about the image, we've been looking at different technical solutions.

Google has never accelerated the replacement of updated satellite imagery from our maps before, but given the circumstance we wanted to make an exception in this case.

– Brian McClendon, google maps

He said it was likely to take eight days until the image was removed.