Austin Mayor Steve Adler has responded to accusations of sleeping at a fallen police officer’s funeral by offering an apology to the family, but police leaders aren’t buying it.
Photos posted online appeared to show the mayor nodding off during the funeral service of Austin Police Officer Anthony Martin, who died in an off-duty motorcycle crash in September.
“I want to express my deepest apologies to the family of Officer Martin. Officer Martin died 10 days ago and will forever be honored as a hero,” Adler told Fox News.
“This moment should be about him and his family, including his two daughters, whose words today pierced my heart as a father. I hold Officer Martin in the highest regard. May his memory be a blessing to his family, and to the city he served,” Adler continued.
The photos sparked a flurry of outrage among police, family members and the community.
Officer Martin’s wife Amberlee Martin said she was “crushed” by the mayor’s actions.
“This service wasn’t just a checklist for us. It was the honor and respect of a man who has served his country and community his WHOLE life. My family needed to see him honored not [disrespected],” Amberlee said in a statement through the Austin Police Association.
“My husband, their father, who doesn’t get to ever come home again, doesn’t get to go to SLEEP next to me EVER again, doesn’t get to RETIRE in four years from now, who doesn’t get to enjoy those golden years with me. I know he doesn’t mean anything to you but could you have at least pretended for just one hour.”
Others who saw the mayor sleeping were similarly angered by his apparent indifference.
“I was very angry,” Austin resident and community activist Sandy Ramirez told Fox News Digital. “I was ready to get up and elbow him or something.”
Ramirez added that Martin deserved respect for his service as an Air Force veteran and a police officer.
“I understand nodding off in church because you hear the same stuff sometimes, but this is a memorial for a gentleman who passed on, that gave his life for service, both as an airman and a police officer.”
Adler’s office said the mayor privately reached out to Martin’s widow to apologize and express his condolences.
Mayor Adler and the Austin Police Department have a frayed relationship.
Austin police leaders were quick to draw connections between the event and Adler’s previous history of defunding the police.
During the “defund the police” movement in 2020, the Austin City Council and Adler voted to strip the department of over $150 million. A law by Texas state lawmakers later forced the city to reinstate roughly $133 million of the cut funds.
“If you’re going to defund and destroy a police department as their mayor, then attend a highly respected officer’s funeral, perhaps do not continue to disrespect that officer’s family, friends and others by falling asleep,” Austin police officer and former GOP candidate tweeted.
Berry, who also works as the commissioner of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, added that Adler has “time and time again shown nothing but contempt and utmost disrespect toward the men and women of the Austin Police Department but also our families.”
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Martin was driving home from a night shift when a vehicle turned left in front of Martin’s motorcycle on the highway and struck him.
Martin served in the United States Air Force for two decades before becoming a police officer in 2006.
He leaves behind his wife, three children and a granddaughter.