MEMPHIS, Tenn.– A former deputy warden at the Mississippi State Penitentiary — commonly known as Parchman — pleaded guilty Thursday to assaulting an inmate in 2016, the Department of Justice announced.

Melvin Hilson, 49, was charged with violating an inmate’s civil rights by repeatedly striking him and knocking him to the ground. Authorities say the inmate suffered from a ruptured eardrum, prolonged headaches, and abrasions on his head and neck.

According to documents and statements presented in court, Hilson was working as a member of Parchman’s K-9 unit at the time of the assault.

On or around August 3, 2016, the inmate was in a caged area inside the medical unit waiting to see a medical provider when Hilson approached him and struck him with a closed fist several times. During the assault, Hilson also kicked him to the ground, picked him up, struck him, and knocked him to the ground again.

The inmate did not attempt to fight back or defend himself during the assault, according to prosecutors.

Hilson was indicted in June 2021 on three separate counts including writing a false report to conceal the assault and lying to the Mississippi Department of Corrections about the assault.

The civil rights violation carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction charges will be dismissed at the conclusion of the sentencing.

Hilson is scheduled to be sentenced in September.