Austin Mayor Steve Adler apologized Monday after he was accused of falling asleep at a memorial service for an Austin police officer who died in an off-duty motorcycle crash.
Adler's apology came after a photo was posted online by an Austin police officer that showed him with his eyes closed and his chin tucked into his chest during a funeral service for officer Anthony Martin.
"I want to express my deepest apologies to the family of Officer Martin," Adler said in a written statement to the Austin American-Statesman.
"This moment should be about him and his family, including his two daughters whose words today pierced my heart as a father," Adler said. "I hold Officer Martin in the highest regard. May his memory be a blessing to his family, and to the city he served."
Adler, who is term-limited, is not running for re-election. The election to decide his replacement is in November.
This episode comes as the relationship between Adler and the Austin Police Department continues to show signs of strain. The frayed relationship stems, in part, from law enforcement budget cuts signed by the mayor and other city elected officials in 2020. Those cuts were later restored.
Among those criticizing Adler for sleeping at the funeral was Justin Berry, an Austin police officer and former Republican political candidate. Berry posted the photo on Twitter.
"You have time and time again shown nothing but contempt and utmost disrespect towards the men and women of the Austin Police Department but also our families," Berry wrote on Twitter.
Berry was among the Austin police officers indicted earlier this year over their use of force during Black Lives Matter protests in the city in May 2020. Budget cuts to the Austin Police Department were made following those protests.
Thomas Villarreal, the head of the Austin Police Association, told the Statesman that Adler's actions distracted from honoring Martin.
"I have expressed my frustration directly to Steve and will deal with that issue at a later time," Villarreal told the newspaper. "For now, I ask everyone to please keep Tony's family in your prayers.
Martin, who served in the Air Force before starting his law enforcement career in Austin in 2006, was killed in a crash while on his way home from working the night shift, according to news reports. A vehicle turned left in front of Martin's motorcycle on the highway.
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