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The Pennington County Jail inmate who died last month in custody was killed by methamphetamine toxicity after swallowing a bag with the drug that later broke open in his stomach, according to his death certificate. 

Richard Zimmerman, a 31-year-old from Rapid City, died at 8:39 a.m. Sept. 15 at Regional Health Hospital after having an "injury" at the jail between 4:40 p.m. and 8:08 a.m. the day before, the certificate says.

It's unclear if "injury" refers to Zimmerman ingesting the bag, being found unconscious or some other event. Trent Nelson of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, who is listed as the certifier on the death certificate, said he could not comment on what what the term refers to. 

Zimmerman's cause of death was determined through an autopsy and ruled accidental, the death certificate says. 

He was arrested on a parole violation on Sept. 14 and found unresponsive at the jail the next morning, according to the original press release from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. Jail staff tried to resuscitate Zimmerman, and an ambulance later took him to the hospital. 

Helene Duhamel, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, declined to disclose what Zimmerman's parole violation and original charge were or answer other questions, saying the office won't be commenting until the investigation into the incident is complete. The investigation is being conducted by the Division of Criminal Investigations at the state Attorney General's Office. 

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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