Bing Streetside edits images showing Baltimore homicide victim

A Bing maps photography car captured the body of a homicide victim in south Baltimore

A car that drove through Curtis Bay last year to record ground-level images for an online mapping service captured more than the streetscape.

The car, which recorded images for Bing Streetside, photographed the body of a Baltimore man moments after he had been shot. Police say Ricky Chambers Jr. was pronounced dead later at a local hospital.

The series of pictures, taken in April 2015 and merged to allow a continuous virtual tour down Pennington Avenue, were modified by Bing sometime before Tuesday morning with a white box over the image.

The images were brought to the attention of The Baltimore Sun by a member of the public. A police spokesman said the department was not previously aware of them.

Chambers, 24, was found shot shortly after 3:30 p.m. April 29, 2015, at Pennington Avenue and Hazel Street. It was two days after the Freddie Gray riots.

The images offer a glimpse into the immediate aftermath of a Baltimore homicide — a scene ordinarily witnessed only by police officers and people who happen to be nearby.

A police cruiser blocks the entrance to Hazel Street, and an officer stands over the body. Blood is visible on the road. Onlookers gather.

The imaging car did not catch the shooting. Nor did it stop — the sequence of images continues uninterrupted as the car drives on.

Microsoft bills Bing Streetside as "the true-to-life experience for explorers everywhere."

Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said the images were captured almost as soon as the shooting took place, just before Chambers was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

If a body is going to be left in a public place, Smith said, officers have screens they put up to shield it.

The investigation into Chambers' death remains open, Smith said. He said investigators were contacting Microsoft about removing the images.

"It's insensitive to victims' families," he said.

Later Monday, Microsoft said it had been notified and was in the process of taking the images down.

Street View Fun, a blog that posts interesting images from the similar Google Street View service, reported images from 2011 that appeared to be a homicide investigation in Huntington, W.Va.. Some of those images are still available on Street View, but what appears to be the body of a victim has been blurred.

iduncan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/iduncan

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