Orlando fire chief suspended after he was accused of punching woman in face

Deputy Fire Chief Craig Buckley now acting Fire Chief

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Fire Department has suspended its chief, Benjamin Barksdale, after a misdemeanor arrest warrant was issued for him in North Carolina after he was accused of punching a woman in the face.

The city and the fire department released a statement about the suspension.

“We have been made aware of a misdemeanor arrest warrant involving Fire Chief Benjamin Barksdale in the state of North Carolina. Chief Barksdale has been suspended with pay. In his absence, the acting Fire Chief will be Deputy Fire Chief Craig Buckley,” the statement reads.

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Barksdale is accused of punching a woman in the face, court records show.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office’s website shows charges of assault and battery and assault on a female.

Barksdale was announced as Orlando’s fire chief in September of 2019 after his predecessor, former Fire Chief Roderick Williams, resigned amid allegations of harassment and retaliation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Williams and two deputy chiefs discriminated against a female employee, according to a report issued Feb. 13, 2019.

Barksdale was sworn in on Dec. 2, 2019. Before taking the helm of the Orlando Fire Department, Barksdale served as the fire chief of Prince George’s County, Maryland. He began his career in 1987 with the Arlington County Fire Department in Virginia where he rose up in the ranks to the assistant fire chief.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.