BALTIMORE - Six days after the death of a young black man at the hands of police sparked riots in Baltimore, the city's mayor lifted a citywide curfew on Sunday morning, signaling an end to the extraordinary measures taken to ensure public safety amid an outcry over police practices.
Additionally, Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Maryland National Guard has begun demobilizing the 3,000 troops brought into Baltimore after rioting broke out last week. He says that process will take about three days. Hogan said Sunday that the state of emergency won't be lifted until the last of the national guard has left.
The order for residents to stay home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. had been in place since Tuesday, and officials had planned to maintain it through Monday morning. Protests since last Monday's riots have been peaceful, and Friday's announcement of charges against six officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest eased tensions.
Gray's family has appealed for peace, but say above all they want the people responsible for his death held accountable.
"Without justice, there is no peace but let us have peace in the pursuit of justice," said Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, according to CBS Baltimore.
Baltimore's unrest came amid a fierce national debate over police treatment of minorities and follows the deaths of unarmed African-Americans in New York, South Carolina and Ferguson, Missouri.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement that she didn't want the curfew to continue any longer than necessary.
"My number one priority in instituting a curfew was to ensure the public peace, safety, health and welfare of Baltimore citizens," the Democratic mayor said. "It was not an easy decision, but one I felt was necessary to help our city restore calm."
Gray died after suffering a broken neck while inside a police van. On Friday, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed charges against the six officers involved in his arrest, transport and fatal injury. The officers face charges ranging from manslaughter to second-degree murder.
Mosby, who deemed the death a homicide, said Gray's neck was broken because he was placed head-first into a police van while in handcuffs and later leg shackles where he was left to slam against the walls of the small metal compartment. Police said the officers who arrested Gray ignored his cries for help because they thought he was faking his injuries. He was repeatedly denied medical attention.
Baltimore's police union has put out a statement saying its officers were innocent.
"No officers injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray and they are truly saddened by his death," said FOP lawyer Mike Davey, according to CBS Baltimore.
No matter what actually happened to Gray, experts say Mosby's case against cops will be difficult to prosecute.
Ben Herbst, a Baltimore defense attorney, told CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews the toughest case to prove is against the officer who drove the van. Officer Ceasar Goodson is charged with second degree "depraved heart" murder, a charge that requires the state to show that Goodson injured Gray on purpose, with extreme disregard for his life.
Herbst said the act of slamming on the breaks could be interpreted as meeting the criteria for that charge, but it will still be tough to prove to a jury.
Across the nation, it is very rare for law enforcement officers to be charged following fatal encounters with suspects, much less convicted by jurors often predisposed to give extra weight and credibility to the accounts provided by police.
Mosby's speediness in ordering the officers' arrests stands in stark contrast to the slow pace of the investigations that resulted in no criminal charges against the officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown in Fergusson, Missouri, or Eric Garner in New York City. Mosby also does not have the benefit of a video capturing a decisive moment where lethal force was used, such as a video showing a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer shooting a fleeing Walter Scott multiple times in the back. Despite initial claims by authorities that the shooting was in self-defense, the officer was quickly charged with murder after the video was provided to the media.
In the Gray case, the video evidence is much murkier, with no visual evidence the officers purposely hurt him. Expert witnesses are likely to disagree on whether Gray was seriously injured when the officers pinned him to the sidewalk and cuffed his hands behind his back.
At a demonstration on Saturday that was billed as a "victory rally," speakers expressed gratitude to Mosby for her decision.
"Every prosecutor should have such backbone," said Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice and one of the demonstration's organizers.
The 10 p.m. curfew, which was ordered Tuesday after a night of violence, looting and arson, drew harsh criticism from the city's residents. About 3,000 National Guard soldiers were deployed to the city along with 1,000 extra police officers, including some from out of state. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said the Guard and the officers would be leaving over the next few days.
"When I came into the city on Monday night, it was in flames," Hogan said. "We think it's time to get the community back to normal again. It's been a very hard week, but we've kept everybody safe. Since Monday night, we haven't had any serious problems."
The Maryland chapter of the ACLU civil rights group sent a letter to Rawlings-Blake on Saturday alleging that the curfew was "being enforced arbitrarily and selectively" to break up peaceful protests and prevent media outlets from providing accurate coverage of police activity.
"The curfew is having a dramatic effect on the ability of Baltimore residents to simply go about their daily lives free from fear or arbitrary arrest," the letter read, adding that it's also "the target of protest and the source of new problems rather than a solution."
More than 200 people were arrested during Monday's riots, and more than half of those were released without charges. Rawlings-Blake said during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that authorities are combing through videotapes to identify looters and charge them.